Nelly Overduin

Nelly Overduin

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

If you have been following our messages in these weeks you will know we are going over the four most important names and titles of the Saviour of sinners proclaimed to us in the gospel tidings of the Bible. There is one verse in the Bible that also includes all the four main names, and that is Romans 1:3. Very fittingly, as the apostle Paul wants to explain and proclaim the full gospel message for this sinful perishing world, he speaks of it as “the gospel of God….Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord…..” We have thought about the names, Jesus, Christ, and Lord, and now this time we focus on His name or title or description as Son. Most likely many of you have heard that familiar verse of Scripture, John 3:16, which states, “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son...”  This verse brings out there is no gift greater than this that God could have given.  How good to be reminded of this unspeakable gift also in yet another Christmas season. You are not forgetting it, are you? God gave His only begotten Son to serve as Saviour of sinners!

It is rather striking how often the Scriptures mention this truth about Jesus being God’s Son. For example, just in the verses 7-21 in 1 John 4 Jesus being God’s Son is mentioned at least four times. In a passage which so expands on God being love, you find it saturated with the truth of God giving His only Son to be Saviour for sinners like us. No one can rightly understand the love of God apart from realizing and receiving this gospel truth of Jesus the Saviour being God’s only beloved Son. It is necessary for us truly and repeatedly to emphasize this truth too for it is amazing how often this basic and most blessed truth about Jesus of Nazareth has been discounted and denied in various ways.  In the opening verses of 1 John 4 we are told that to acknowledge Jesus as God’s Son is the mark of true religion while denying that Jesus is the Son of God is the mark of all false religion and of heretical Christianity. The blessed and powerful gospel message is, as expressed in 1 John 4:9, “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” How true what one commentator said: The whole gospel is at stake if Jesus is not God. 

Jesus is God as revealed in this most-heart-melting and motivating gospel tidings with Jesus Christ the Lord labelled over and over also as Son of God. Yes, as God’s beloved only begotten Son. Let us study this more now in this little series on the Saviour’s most important given names. In connection with Jesus being also God’s Son and so called repeatedly, listen to what the Bible-based Heidelberg Catechism instructs with its one question about this. In Q&A 33 the Catechism asks: Why is Christ called the only begotten Son of God, since we are also the children of God, speaking of Christians of course. And the answer given is: Because Christ alone is the eternal and natural Son of God, but we are children, adopted of God, by grace for His sake.

What this Catechism lesson intends to bring out is how special Jesus is as God’s only begotten Son, and how blessed that is for us, even for as many as believe. Thinking of God giving no one less than His only begotten beloved Son to be Saviour, let us feed on and feast on this gospel truth today. Notice with me that Jesus Christ as Saviour is God’s only begotten Son makes clear:

1. the mystery about the Saviour

2. the majesty of the Saviour

3. the marvel of God’s love with the Saviour

4. the magnitude of the Saviour’s work

5. our mandate in view of this Saviour

First then, the mystery with this truth. That Jesus is God’s only begotten Son has an element of divine mystery about it.  Every true Christian will agree with this for who of us can really grasp this and understand that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was not only very man, but as very man was also in one Person very God!  We are speaking of the mystery of Jesus’ incarnation, the wonder of His coming in the flesh. Jesus came as God with us, Emmanuel; He is God’s only begotten Son and truly man in one person. This is something beyond our comprehension. Jesus’ perfect equality with God the Father, come in the flesh, born of the virgin Mary, conceived by the Holy Spirit.  Who can fathom this? No one!  I can’t explain this awesome truth and we don’t have to either. In 1 Timothy 3:16 the apostle Paul exclaims, “And beyond controversy [meaning without question you might say today], great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.”  Jesus, as God’s Son, being in the bosom of the Father from all eternity, and Who never had to think it robbery to be equal with God. This being true of Jesus, the crucified and risen Saviour of sinners, is a wondrous mystery too great to comprehend and infinitely marvellous just to wonder at.

For sure there is mystery with Jesus being the only begotten Son of God, and if we are healthy Christians we always acknowledge this too.  The early church struggled much in holding to and expressing this wondrous mystery truthfully, and we still benefit today so much from their wrestlings in teaching the truth about this mystery concerning Jesus as confessed in the ecumenical creeds of the early church. Let me say no more about this mystery of the Saviour with His being the only begotten Son of God except to emphasize that this mystery of the Christian gospel is not something that should take away faith in the Saviour.  It should rather lead to real and increasing faith in the Saviour, Jesus Christ. What reasons to trust and follow Jesus as only Saviour with all your heart and soul and mind and strength considering just the fact He is the Saviour who is God’s only begotten beloved Son.  This puts quality and affection and authority and eternal worth and value behind the Saviour just so incomparable to anyone else ever! 

Saying that leads me also to our next point about the majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus being called what He is in truth, God’s only begotten Son, how that should increase our respect and awe and adoration for Him. Can you see this with me?  For consider how majestic and grand and glorious is He, Jesus the Saviour, being in fact also God’s only begotten beloved Son from eternity. 

The title, only begotten Son, means truly Jesus was and is God come in the flesh. He is the almighty eternal God come down in human nature and human form. That means, yes, the Son of man, the historical Jesus, born as a baby in Bethlehem and laid in a manger, was really God as well as a human being. It means that Jesus, who grew up as a boy in Nazareth as an ordinary child, sin excepted, was actually God as well as man! How awesome is the fact that in all His life and ministry here on earth in His first thirty years, mostly unknown to us, and then with His three years of public ministry Jesus was here as both truly human and also as truly divine. The Saviour was one with us in His humanity, but at the same time so completely unlike us, not only being without sin in His humanity, but being very God while also being truly man.   

Jesus Christ the Lord is God’s Son come down to this earth in the likeness of men. Yes, and He lived here on this sin-cursed earth for about 33 years, revealing to us God, the God of creation and providence and redemption. Jesus is the revelation of the one only true God in all His fullness!

Indeed, this is the case also when Jesus suffered inexpressible anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, even as the full weight of man’s sin was put on His shoulders, and He would bear the righteous wrath of God for sin on His people’s behalf. The gospel is that Jesus on the cross was not only hanging there as son of man but as Son of God too.  When He was crucified and slain by His enemies, nailed to the accursed tree on the hill of Golgotha, that was Jesus Christ, the eternally beloved of the Father, the only begotten Son of God hanging there! The same is true when Jesus rose from the dead and then ascended to heaven 40 days later, and is now seated at God’s right hand there in spotless holy glory. The once crucified but now forever gloriously exalted Man, Christ Jesus, was and is and forever remains also the only begotten Son of God! When Thomas saw and recognized the resurrected Jesus, we read in John 20 he said in humble awe and adoration, “my Lord and my God” and Jesus accepted that exclamation as most true indeed!

The majesty of the Christian gospel and the supremacy of the Christian faith is that it proclaims not just a human Saviour, but a divine Saviour! You want to know the real and absolute reason why everyone should submit to the gospel of Jesus Christ?  Because it is the gospel from God about the one and only Saviour of sinners Who is also very God! Maybe, dear friends, hearing now loud and clear from the Bible that Jesus the Saviour is the only begotten Son of God, yes, very God Himself as well as very man, it will be the best news you ever heard!  Perhaps it will lead you for a first time even, or afresh, to hear Christ’s voice today, and to trust in Him as your Savior.  Isn’t it such powerful reason and attraction to be drawn to Christ the Saviour?  Jesus Christ the Lord, the only begotten Son of God, HE is the Saviour for sinners like us, you and me. Will you come to Him? Do you come to Him? In John 1:14 the apostle John writes about Jesus the Saviour, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

I have spoken about the mystery of the Saviour being the only begotten Son of God and the majesty of the Saviour as such. Let me now turn to another great related gospel point, namely, the marvel of God’s love in sending His only begotten Son to seek and to save sinners like you and me.  What a marvel that God would send anyone at all to seek and to save rebellious, guilty, underserving, wicked sinners like ourselves who on our own would never even ask for a Saviour. Does that move you way down deep that God should care for this wicked fallen world and show such mercy and compassion that He has worked out a way of salvation and deliverance for lost, corrupted, godless, hell-bound sinners like we are by nature? Please hear this now and be amazed!

God so loved the world, He sent no one less than and no one more infinitely precious to Himself than His only begotten Son to be that one and only Saviour of sinners for us. Yes, the one Whom the Father always loves with a love beyond measure and Who always enjoyed perfect delightful communion with His Son. God gave Him to serve as Saviour of sinners. God gave His one and only precious, darling, beloved Son, always in His Father’s bosom, to save sinners like us. Likewise so Jesus Christ also willingly gave Himself for this task to seek and to save sinners. Words can’t express what a gift of sacrificial love on God the Father’s part and God the Son’s part! No Father ever loved His Son more than God the Father loves His only begotten Son yet He spared not His own Son to save sinners like us. It reminds me again of Romans 8:32, “He that spared not his own Son but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him, also freely give us all things?

Think of what God gave up His Son to bear, paying the equivalent of the eternal punishment for sin in the sinner’s place, and what Jesus Christ all so necessarily and willingly and perfectly suffered to make complete atonement for sin.  Is it not just so astonishing beyond words?

No wonder John wrote in 1 John 4:10, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”  What is your response to so gracious and glorious a Saviour Whom God has sent to seek and to save sinners like us?

That God should so love the world that He gave Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, as Saviour doesn’t only tell of the mystery about Jesus and of the majesty of Jesus.  It so very much tells of the marvel of God’s love for sinners with the sending of Jesus, His darling Son, so totally one with the Father too. What?! Will God forsake His only begotten eternally beloved Son to seek and to save wretched sinners like you and me that we might not be forever forsaken and abandoned by God for our sins and sinfulness as we justly deserve?  Yes, this is the blessed good news of the gospel, the gospel of Jesus, the crucified and risen Saviour being none else than God’s own dearly beloved Son from eternity.  Jesus, God’s darling Son, suffered and died as the just for the unjust that sinners like us might not perish in our sins. And the gospel message is, as many as believe and trust this Saviour God shall not perish, but have everlasting life.  Yes, for free and for sure, for Jesus’ sake alone!  Does this gospel knock at your heart and thrill you way down deep? Is it not most heart-melting and motivating gospel tidings, yes, also to you and for you?

But let me move now to our fourth point how that Jesus Christ the Lord being also God’s only begotten Son brings out as well the magnitude of Jesus’ work and worth as Saviour of sinners. That our Saviour is the only begotten Son of God as well as truly the Son of man too just drives home all the more how absolutely solid and enduring is His saving work on sinner’s behalf. Jesus’ once for all sacrifice on behalf of sinners is a divinely worked and humanly accomplished saving work, able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him, even forevermore so because it is the work of God Himself come in the flesh. Therefore, because of this divine basis and quality to it all, now even when all people of all ages all around the world and 10,000 worlds besides should come to Him, whoever believes on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life!  Jesus’ forgiveness of sins for all who come to Him is a divine forgiveness of sins that is everlastingly sure, and His righteousness obtained for sinners like us is of infinite and everlasting perfect divine quality and worth. As Paul declares in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all the promises of God are yea, and in him, amen, unto the glory of God by us.” No one therefore ever trusts in Jesus Christ, the God-sent Saviour in vain. No, never, for remember, Jesus is not just another human being, righteous as ever, but He is also in one and the same person the only begotten beloved Son of God.  

God sent His only begotten Son to be the Saviour God come in the flesh because no other remedy was possible for the complete salvation of sinners.  There was and is no other solution, even for God, to save sinners except He send His only begotten Son to be the exact Saviour we need. And God was willing to send Him. And Jesus willingly came, desiring to do the will of His Father. And the Holy Spirit anointed Jesus for this very task.  Having sent God’s only begotten beloved Son, do you see with me the magnitude of the gospel message?

Just ponder the boundless immeasurable worth and infinite sureness and splendidness of it no matter from what angle you study it, and be amazed! The perfectness and sureness and fullness and freeness and eternalness of salvation found with the Saviour is inexpressible.  And the salvation found for sinners with the Saviour also being the only begotten Son of God for whoever comes to Him can never be added to, and can never be fathomed, and will never run out! This is the good news of salvation with the Lord Jesus Christ as Son of God serving as the promised Messiah and Saviour of sinners. Who accomplishes something can sometimes really make all the difference in the worth of that something. Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, accomplishing salvation on sinner’s behalf makes that salvation infinitely precious and forever sure, even for as many sinners as come to Him in faith and repentance. God is rich to all that call upon Him in Jesus’ name and for His sake. This is the one and only gospel message still.  Doesn’t Jesus Christ being the only begotten Son of God make abundantly clear to you also the magnitude of His Person and work as Saviour, and of His infinite worth and reliable word of promise to whoever will believe?

How well one wrote about the blessedness of Jesus as God-sent Saviour being Son of God and Son of Man, testifying:

 

 

“Dearest of all the names above, My Jesus, and my God,

Who can resist thy heavenly love, Or trifle with thy blood?

 

‘Tis by the merits of thy death, The Father smiles again;

‘Tis by thine interceding breath, The Spirit dwells with men.

 

‘Till God in human flesh I see, My thoughts no comfort find;

The holy, just, and sacred Three Are terrors to my mind.

 

But if Immanuel’s face appear, My hope, my joy begins;

His name forbids my slavish fear, His grace removes my sins.

 

While Jews on their own laws rely, And Greeks of wisdom boast;

I love ‘th’ Incarnate Mystery, And there I fix my trust.” 

 

Is this your response now too, dear friends? Oh, the magnitude of Christ’s person and work as Saviour, being God’s only begotten Son while also truly very man, like us in all things, sin excepted, and humbling himself even to the death of the cross that we might be lifted up and brought even into the intimate family of God the Father. How much reason to say and shout, “HALLELUJAH, WHAT A SAVIOR”! Or could it be you hear all this and continue still in cold unbelief, and you marvel only always at so much of this fallen world while rejecting and despising still God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as only Saviour of sinners? 

Does it have to be said here how terribly wicked and wrong it is to discount and turn away from this one and only supreme Saviour of sinners sent from God to seek and to save the lost. In Hebrews 2 the question is asked: How shall any escape who neglect, that is, reject and despise, scorn and scoff, so great salvation as revealed in and with Jesus Christ the Lord Who as Saviour is also God’s only begotten Beloved Son? How terrible the eternal anguish in hell knowing forever you most foolishly and wickedly despised and rejected so great and gracious and glorious Saviour of sinners! Oh, hear then now Christ calling to repent of sin and believe on Him before it is forever too late. Come, sinners, rebels, and transgressors, vile and undeserving, guilty of so much sin and hardened with sin though you are, come to Jesus now, pleading His mercy and grace and salvation also for you.  Isn’t there deliverance still now, complete and free, with Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, as Saviour of sinners? Yes, there is.  Come and make no delay. Listen here to what John writes near the end of his gospel account in John 20:30-31. “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name.”  

I still have one more point, and that is concerning our mandate as confessing Christians with so great a Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who is in one person the son of man and the Son of God. What is our mandate and mission as confessing believers and Christian church with so great a gospel message? Is it not that we truly acknowledge Jesus as our Saviour and Lord and that we ever live to His praise and honor, seeking in this way also that more and more may come to hear and know of Him?  Let us not be ashamed to confess Jesus Christ is very God and man as Saviour of sinners, indeed, God’s only begotten beloved Son even. Let us glory in this gospel truth and seek to pass on this good news to others as we are given opportunity to do so for it is the heart and riches of the gospel message.

That the Saviour is the only begotten Son of God makes possible our complete salvation and the blessed adoption into the beloved and eternal family of God for sinful people like us, all for free for Jesus’ sake alone by grace through faith in Him. Let us trust Him and love Him and serve Him with everything we have and every day too. Next Sunday, being also Christmas Day and the last Lord’s Day of the year 2016, we will think about Jesus’ first coming when born in Bethlehem.  His birth and life and ministry as Saviour of sinners is so special and sure and wonderful just considering His four main names and titles as told in the gospel of God for us, that gospel concerning his Son,  “Jesus Christ our Lord.”  If you understand these four names then you know it has to be true and it makes a lot of gospel sense that Jesus Christ the Lord, God’s Son, is coming again, and infinitely blessed will all be who are ready for His appearing and woe to all who look not for His coming again as He said.  With Jesus’ first coming how many who should have known better were unmindful of His coming. That is not now true of you too, is it?  God forbid.  O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of God concerning His Son, Jesus Christ the Lord, the blessed most reliable gospel tidings for all people even as the angel declared with Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. “I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.”[Luke 2:10]  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16] Amen.  

 

Hans Overduin, Radio Pastor 

In these weeks before Christmas Sunday we are looking at the four main names and titles given to the Saviour of sinners proclaimed to us in the Bible.   We have thought so far of two of His names. The Saviour’s God-given personal name is Jesus, which means Saviour. The God-given official name or title of the Saviour is Christ, meaning the anointed One, the Messiah. What a Saviour the Christian gospel message proclaims just thinking of these two names so far. Today we think yet of another name or title of the Saviour and that is the fact that He is called Lord too.  How often you will find the three names together, “Jesus Christ the Lord”, or our “Lord Jesus Christ.”  What endless good news for us just in these three names of the Saviour, and next week, God willing, we will consider yet a fourth name!  

Thinking now of the glorious title, Lord, let me point you to a text in the last book of the New Testament, Revelation 19:16.  There we are told about the exalted returning Christ, “And he hath on his vesture [robe] and on his thigh a name written, KING of KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” It is clearly and doubly displayed in other words, this title of the triumphant Saviour. And when you look at this verse in its context, it is very plain how the whole chapter is truly of such relevance in connection with Jesus’ title, Lord.  One commentary, in fact, states concerning this chapter, John leaves us in no doubt as to who is supreme Lord. Isn’t this something most wholesome to consider? We will go through our text passage now then with this focus in mind, the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

We are learning today that Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners, is not simply “our candidate Jesus Christ” among many other possible lords and masters out there. Neither is He not just “our favourite Jesus Christ” among other saviours to be found in this world. He is not our maybe potential hopeful helper who has a good chance of being our champion leader possibly eventually down the road, perhaps the winner one day. No, no! But He is, as Scripture teaches us over and over, what God’s people may know and confess in spirit and truth, “our Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, we can’t even mention these three names together without thereby acknowledging Jesus’ supremacy and sovereignty and absolute royal power over all as Saviour of sinners.  The Saviour is the Lord Jesus, Christ Jesus the Lord! In other words, Jesus is the Saviour with almighty supreme power and glory and honor whether people will confess it or not, something His added name and title, Lord, so confirms for us.

What an encouragement this may give all Christians and what a warning for all unbelievers to seek the Lord while He may be found and to call upon while He is near.  From our text, Revelation 19:16, under the theme, Jesus is Lord, notice with me:

1. the evidence for His Lordship

 2. the earnestness of His Lordship

 3. the excellence of His Lordship

First of all, what is the evidence of Jesus as Lord, indeed, as the Lord over all, Lord God above all? Here we need to think of Revelation 19 in its context.  The book of Revelation is all about the unveiling of Jesus Christ the Lord, and all He is, and all He does for His Church in all ages, even unto the end of the world and into endless eternity.  In the opening verses of the book of Revelation, Jesus is described in chapter 1:5 and following as “Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince [ruler] of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”  In vs.8 of this chapter we read this same Jesus Christ the Lord stating, I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Doesn’t that tell us this book of Revelation is all about the ruling, reigning, exalted, supreme Christ Jesus, and Who He is and promises to be for His people, and what He all will do for all those who trust and follow Him?

Yes, dear friends, this is what that last book of the Bible is altogether proclaiming and making most clear, namely, that unto Jesus Christ, the victorious exalted Lamb of God, belongs the kingdom, and the power, and the glory now and forever! Even when it doesn’t seem like that at present, [also not in John’s day - think of him banished on the isle of Patmos, persecuted for the faith] still the Saviour, Jesus of Nazareth, reigns and rules at God’s right hand, from the throne room in the highest heaven!  As long foretold, even hundreds of years before Jesus’ coming to this earth in Isaiah 9:6ff “….the government shall be upon his shoulder: … [and] of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”

Coming to Revelation 19 itself now, we are brought to the foretelling of the end of the age, the last days of this world. In chapter 18 we are told of the final falling and defeat of Babylon, meaning the end of this evil world and the apostate church which end is coming for sure. Chapter 19 foretells something of the triumphant celebration of God’s kingdom through Jesus Christ over against all the kingdoms of this world and the certain defeat and destruction of the leading demonic powers on earth. Jesus is Lord in this sense that He is the Saviour God triumphant over all! So we also read in vs.6 the encouraging gospel statement most loudly and majestically proclaimed about Jesus Christ the Lord, “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”  In other words, you see, Jesus is Lord over all!  The smoke of the enemy kingdoms as represented with the fall of Babylon, “her smoke rose up forever and ever” we are told in vs.3.  “Alleluia! Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power unto the Lord our God” is the blessed testimony of Revelation 19, starting already with vs.1!

The reality is then according to the Bible, and for confessing believers this is such a praise item, Jesus Christ is Lord! Being Lord is attached to Him being Jesus Christ, and the phrase “our Lord Jesus Christ” is so precious for God’s people if we only think of the meaning of this all.  Is Jesus being named also ‘Lord”  a matter of praise for you?  Do we think enough how praiseworthy a matter this is, that Jesus of Nazareth of the seed of David reigns now and forever as King of kings and Lord of lords?  Imagine if it were not so! What hope would there be then?  But since Christ Jesus is on the throne above all, what need to fear now ever? For shall the Lord Jesus Christ not rule in a most wonderful, right, loving, caring, fulfilling way? Oh, praise God also now in this 21st century still and till the end of the world the God of the Bible reigns, and to Jesus is given all power in heaven and on earth for His gracious, glorious, grand gospel purposes! As Revelation 19:5 exhorts when thinking of this, “Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.”

What clear evidence this chapter gives too that the Lord Jesus has purchased a people and saved them from their sins through His precious blood. How does that come out? It comes out in the two references to the Lord Jesus as the Lamb in vs.7 and again in vs.9. Jesus is the Lamb of God Who through His once for all sacrifice, with the shedding of His blood redeems and saves sinners, as many as trust and follow Him. The Saviour owns a people as His prized possession, even speaking of His own as His “body” and His “bride”. The apostle Peter in 1 Peter 1:18&19 speaks of how God’s people are “not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver or gold…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”   Behold the Lamb on the throne, Jesus Christ the Lord! And what a great innumerable multitude of people He redeems through His blood! In vs.1 of this chapter the number of the redeemed are referred to as “much people” and in vs.6 as “a great multitude”, yes, from every tribe and tongue and nation, saved through the once for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners!

The text speaks also of the “fine linen, clean and white” which the redeemed may wear in heaven and we know from chapter 7 how those fine clothes are given to God’s redeemed. In Revelation 7:13b we read this question about the redeemed in heaven. “What [who] are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they?” And vs.14-17 goes on to say, “I [John] said unto him, “Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, ‘These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them [literally shepherd them], and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”

You see how precious this is?  Jesus is Lord reigning over all, and He has a people that are His people, purchased through His precious blood.  And they serve Him and worship Him, and acknowledge Him as Lord of lords and King of kings. With Jesus Christ being also Lord, we see He provides for His people and is the Protector of His people.  In chapter 19 reference is made to the great marriage supper of the Lamb telling of the endless blessed rich provision Jesus Christ has obtained for His people. Jesus Christ the Lord is the most wonderful glorious Lord and Master for His people! We see in our text passage the exalted Saviour in action and ‘on the move’ as Lord for the protection and keeping of His people! Revelation 19 brings out Jesus on the white horse with His word and His supreme power not only saving the redeemed, but bringing to judgment and defeat all that will resist and oppose Him. In the second half of the chapter you see the Lord act in swift and irrevocable judgment upon all the wicked and unbelieving.

There is much that can be said about all the details of the chapter, but I just want to bring out the summary point of it all which is this.  How Jesus reigns supreme in provision and defense of His people and in fulfillment of all His promises for His people, and bringing total defeat and everlasting punishment upon all who will not bow the knee to Him, and against Satan and all his forces. In the next chapter, Revelation 20, vs.10 tells of Satan himself being finally and eternally brought down too, never to disturb God’s people and kingdom again.  We read there, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”  This is the word of the Lord, or as Revelation 19:9 also states emphatically, “These are the true sayings of God.”  Oh, through Jesus Christ the Lord, dear friends, you and I may be and can be and will be delivered not only from all our sins and sinfulness, but also from all the power of the devil.  Our God reigns! Jesus is LORD. “…Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” as we read in vs.6 again, remember?  Jesus is the Lord on the white horse of victory, and He is the Saviour with “many crowns” on His head as the text says in vs.12.

Can there be a greater blessing than being the property, the possession of Jesus Christ, and having Him as your Saviour and Lord to Whom we owe our all in all? Do you confess Christ Jesus as your only Saviour, and the Lord your Lord?  The purpose here is not only that you and I know and confess Jesus Christ as Lord, as has been explained, but that we do so as expressed also in Revelation 19, full of jubilant praise and adoration for Jesus as Lord!

It is worthy of note that Revelation 19, which so shows Jesus’ Lordship over all, is the one chapter in all the New Testament where the word ‘Alleluia’ is found. The word ‘Alleluia’ or ‘Hallelujah’ occurs only in this passage in all the New Testament and it appears 4 times in this chapter [vs.1,3,4,6].  Hallelujah means literally “Praise Yahweh!”  In the Old Testament, especially in the psalms, it is regularly translated as “Praise ye the LORD!” (Psalm 106, 111-113, 117, 135, 146-150)  Revelation 19, giving so much evidence about Jesus as LORD, teaches, as one put it, Salvation is more than personal deliverance. [In this chapter we learn also] it refers to the safeguarding of God’s entire redemptive program! In other words, Christ Jesus’ glory and power as Lord refers to the majesty and might revealed in effecting a deliverance of such [supreme, and endless] scope! So praise the LORD that Jesus is LORD!  I ask you, in Jesus’ Name, are you praising God that Jesus is Lord of lords and King of kings? Is this revelation of Jesus as the LORD over all most encouraging in the faith to you who are confessing Christians?  Will not every true believer begin already here on this earth, truly and repeatedly, to praise God for this truth as so brought out here in our text chapter? May this so encourage and admonish all who are confessing believers in the LORD Jesus Christ!  Think here too of Paul’s words in Romans 6:23 where he declares emphatically under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

To see the urgency and importance of this matter I come now to our second main point, moving from the evidence of Jesus’ Lordship to the earnestness of Jesus as Lord.  That this is an earnest matter comes out how in our text chapter?  Well, you see with me, don’t you, from Revelation 19 how all who will not bow the knee to Jesus Christ the Lord, all who live apart from Him, and indifferent to Him, and in disobedience and rebellion before Him will surely be consumed by the wrath of the Lamb! There is no exception here, not for you either. Except you in this life repent of sin and trust and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, you are and remain unconverted and forever condemnable in God’s sight because of all your sins and sinfulness. Not believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible teaches, also in this chapter, you will find Jesus the Lord not for you but against you in His holy just judgment.  Those who trample underfoot, as it were, the blood the Lamb come to be Saviour, will, in fact, be trampled underfoot under the righteous judgment of the Lamb. He Who rides on the white horse in final judgment against all the wicked and unbelieving knows everything about us, each and all. Not a sinful thought or word or deed from you or anyone is unknown to Him. All the multitude of our sins and foul transgressions in thought, word, and deed are before Him, and without being washed by Christ’s precious blood of atonement, without Him as your and my Saviour and Lord, we will perish in our sins!  All the unbelieving and wicked will be cast in the lake that burns with fire forever, even together with Satan and the beast and the false prophet as we are told in Revelation 19 and 20.

We live in a time when this teaching is not popular nor appreciated and seldom heard. People delude themselves thinking and believing it just won’t be so. But as Christ’s ambassador, I urge you, don’t fall for the lie of our age that Jesus would never do such a thing as cast people into hell. He will, even all who will not repent and believe on Him. You may think sin is not such a serious matter, and ongoing rebellion against the Lord not something so alarming, but it is, dear friends, it is! You can’t afford to live a single moment longer not trusting and obeying Jesus Christ now as your only Saviour and LORD. Revelation 19 shows Jesus on the march on His white horse and then without a battle even the next thing we read is about not only of the marriage supper of the lamb for God’s people, but then also of the awful judgment for all the wicked, everyone who refused to bow the knee in spirit and truth before Jesus Christ the Lord. This chapter in its details gives a dreadful picture of the final and eternal righteous judgment and punishment of all the wicked and unbelieving. It is not something to scoff at, how God’s word repeatedly foretells not only the eternal joy of the redeemed in heaven, but also of the endless agony of the unsaved in hell.

The point now is, it is a matter of earnestness that Jesus Christ is LORD over all. Will you who are still not saved by His grace and not following Him in repentance and faith hear yet the gracious loving call from Jesus the LORD even as it comes now to you from Revelation 19?  Today is the day of salvation. Do you hear Jesus’ gospel call, you who are not yet submitting to Him?  Let the fact of Jesus the Saviour’s Lordship draw you and drive you to Him while it is still the day of grace!  For how horrible to continue with self and Satan as your lord, What hopeless awful eternal punishment will be yours if you should so die and come before the last judgment. He that has an ear, let him hear.

Yes, let us listen to the gospel considering now the third point so clearly brought out in our text passage as well, namely, the excellence of Jesus’ lordship over us! Jesus as Lord is the infinitely best Master and Ruler you and I ever could have! Being saved by Him, as this chapter brings out, we become not only His children, but heirs together with Him of eternal life in heaven and welcome guests for always at the endless, splendid, lavish, joyful, unbelievably ever satisfying marriage supper of the Lamb! Jesus as Lord delivers His people from out the worst bondages and miseries to the best of the greatest privileges and blessings ever possible! Oh, to what dignity and lofty heights Jesus the Lord lifts His people! 

We know the great secret or reason for the excellence of Jesus’ Lordship of His people. It is all on account of the infinitely excelling Person and work of Christ Jesus, the Saviour of sinners. He on sinner’s behalf, for the salvation of His people, as Saviour Lord supreme, left the glory of heaven and became the Man of sorrows, despised and rejected of men. Jesus as ‘the just for the unjust’ experienced and went through suffering utmost indignity and shame, even to death on the cross, that sinners like us, you and me, through His poverty might be rich. And that we through His indignity faithfully suffered and endured might be offered free and full salvation and dignity most glorious for now and forevermore!  Think of what endless shame and punishment in body and soul we deserve for our sins and sinfulness.  And then think of what Jesus accomplished for us as Saviour of sinners, and how He did so in endless love and mercy towards people like us. Does it not cause you to bow the knee in humble and glad submission before Him and holy adoration for Him?

It is the Lord’s pleasure and delight, to give Himself and to rule and serve as God over all for the salvation of sinners. Jesus Christ the LORD saves and transforms sinners, turning us from unsaved to saved, from ‘hell bound’ to ‘heaven bound’, from rebels to saints, from condemned to justified, from defiled to washed whiter than snow, from forever doomed in judgment instead now to eternal guests at the marriage supper of the Lamb!  Oh, the excellence of Jesus’ Lordship can’t be surpassed, no, not in any way ever.  No, never!  Shouldn’t this be your and my exuberant, consistent, sincere gospel testimony as confessing Christians living in this world with so many following far lesser masters and evil self-serving lords of so many kinds? 

The book of Revelation is given by God to teach and assure His suffering and struggling people here below, that Christ Jesus, Whom they trust and in Whom is their refuge, as faithful and good-doing, all-wise, and almighty Saviour God is also Lord over all. This means that while life here on earth still may be and is full of trials and temptations and struggles and sorrows, yes, also very much as His people, and in His service, yet there is a new day coming, full of hope and glory. The LORD Jesus Christ promises an eternal rest so sweet and splendid that words cannot express it!  Will you have Revelation 19 showing Jesus as LORD over all be of great encouragement to you in the faith here and now? Should it not stir up God’s people in diligent faithfulness in God’s ways and zealous gospel witness to His praise? When you know the great Saviour also as your Lord, you want others to come to know Him too.  You want others to escape with you from following wrong and false masters to submit to and serve rather the LORD Jesus Christ Who is only most gracious and glorious and wonderful as Savior God and Lord in all His works and ways.

Jesus Christ is Lord.  This is something the whole Bible teaches us. Clearly Revelation 19 gives such evidence for this, and tells of the earnestness about this, and the excellence of His Lordship, and it proclaims what may be your and my expectation with this gospel truth.  Will you be both blessed and a blessing, keeping ever before you how Jesus Christ is KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS? Don’t let another Christmas season go by forgetting or ignoring this gospel teaching, will you? No, for soon enough it will be clear, as prophesied in Psalm 72 already and proven in Revelation as expressed in a song based on Psalm 72:

 

Christ shall have dominion over land and sea

Earth’s remotest regions, shall His empire be.

  Indeed, thus saith the LORD! Amen.

Hans Overduin, Radio Pastor                 

On these Sundays just before Christmas Day, 2016 we are thinking of the glory of the Saviour born in Bethlehem long ago looking especially at four of His main names and titles.  Last time we studied His personal name, Jesus, which means Saviour.  Today we want to think about His title, Christ, which means literally, Messiah, and the anointed One. Many texts could be chosen for this message, and many verses will be referred to, but our main text will be 1 Timothy 2:5. Here the apostle Paul declares, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.”  

Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ. How this by itself should draw our attention to Him and make us attentive to Him.  That He is the Christ makes Him the true and superb Saviour of sinners He truly is and always will be.  To explain this let me first of all show you from the Scriptures how this was and is a matter of great importance whether Jesus is the Christ or not.  Let me begin with John 1:41 where we are told about Andrew coming to Peter to tell him about Jesus.  Andrew says there: “We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.”  The Old Testament form of the title, Christ, is Messiah.  God promised a Saviour, the Messiah, even the day Adam and Eve fell into sin. And now Jesus being called the Messiah, the Christ, proclaims by itself that at last the Promised Saviour has come!  In Matthew 16:16 in answer to the question of Jesus to His disciples, “Whom say ye that I am?” Peter responds with the words, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The text in Matthew 16 goes on further showing clearly that Jesus so approved of this confession from Peter about Him stating even that this gospel truth was something made known to Peter by the Holy Spirit of God.  This is a basic central gospel truth to everything about Jesus that He is the Christ! On this ‘rock bottom’ truth Jesus says, “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  In this regard how true what one person wrote: That Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the long-promised Messiah, is the key to the entire gospel

This comes out further when you consider the question of Caiaphas, the high priest, with Jesus’ trial as mentioned in Matthew 26:63.  Caiaphas said to Jesus, “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” And then Jesus acknowledged, yes, He was and is the Christ!  Caiaphas and the Jewish leaders would not believe it then, but this is the gospel truth so significant. Jesus is the Christ!  That this is so all important about Jesus and makes all the difference in our view of Him is clear too from the witness of the apostles with Pentecost and since then.  Their focus in their witnessing of Jesus is that Jesus was and is the Christ!  Hear Peter say in Acts 2:36, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”  And this is what pricked peoples’ hearts, even 3000 people, that first Pentecost. They had crucified not just Jesus of Nazareth, but Jesus Who is the Christ!   In Acts 5:42 we read further about the disciples that “daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ [or Jesus as the Christ]!” Likewise in Acts 17:3 we are told of Paul laboring in Thessalonica to make clear “that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.”

Very interestingly it is not till after Jesus’ resurrection that the title, Christ, becomes more known and used.  We read even more than once during Jesus’ earthly ministry that He warned His disciples not to tell anyone that He was “Jesus the Christ” [Matthew 16:20 and Mark 8:30]. Jesus did not want His title, Christ, to be known too much because people had such a wrong idea of what that title, “Christ” or “Messiah”, meant.  They thought if Christ comes, He will set up an earthly kingdom, and the people promoting that would interfere with Jesus Christ’s real mission to seek and to save sinners. So not till the salvation work was accomplished did this title, Christ, gain full recognition and call for all proclamation!  Jesus wouldn’t hold high His official title and name, Christ, till all was accomplished, fully verifying that title! 

This by itself reflected such tender care on Jesus’ part towards sinners and such humiliation on His part towards us. For the sinner’s sake, Jesus kept His title, Christ, low key till the Saviour knew it could be proclaimed in a way that people would no longer misunderstand it and misapply it.  Here let me just mention some facts to back this point.  In the four gospels, the title “Christ” occurs 48 times while the name “Jesus” is given 553 times.  In the letters of the apostle Paul, however, the name “Jesus” is mentioned only 16 times, whereas the title “Christ” occurs 209 times.  This all brings out that title, Christ, is something so important in relation to Jesus. It proclaims everything about Jesus as being so genuine, so God-approved, so dependable, so rich and very true.

The gospel isn’t only that Jesus came as the Mediator between God and sinful mankind, but He came as the Mediator with both precious and official names, the names Christ Jesus, Jesus Christ. In chapter 1:15 too of 1 Timothy we have that glorious gospel declaration and invitation: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners!”  

Does the title, Christ, help draw you to Jesus and cause you to pay all attention to Him as the one and only Saviour of sinners?  This official title for the Saviour is a message that tells us Jesus is the God-promised Saviour, the God-sent Saviour, the God-approved Saviour, the God- anointed Saviour, and the God-qualified Saviour!  Literally the name Christ means the anointed one. The Hebrew word, Messiah, means anointed one as the Greek verb ‘chrio’ means to anoint, so the word Messiah in Greek is Christ, meaning the Anointed One. In Matthew 24:5 Jesus warns in the last days, “…many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.”  The gospel message of the Bible is that only Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, that one Mediator between God and men, sent by God Triune and equipped by Him to be the Saviour of sinners, the man Christ Jesus.  This title, Christ, should and may so assure you and me that Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and risen again, was and is no self-appointed, self-made leader and Saviour. No, but He was a Man sent out by His Father, come from heaven above to do His work in this world. Jesus came conceived by the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary’s womb and later was also anointed by the Holy Spirit just after His baptism by John the Baptist. This all serves to demonstrate, Jesus came not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him. The Saviour’s title, Christ, links Jesus with God Himself, and that title gives Jesus the authority and the power to establish His kingdom.  As one put it, This official name, Christ, covers everything our Lord did under His personal name, Jesus.   

How this title, Christ, should so encourage all of us wholly and only to trust Jesus as Saviour of sinners.  Maybe you have never noticed this before. But notice it today then from God’s holy word. Jesus is the Christ and His official title as Christ Jesus makes everything about Him so reliable, and so rich, and so inviting to all. Jesus as the Saviour of sinners is the Christ! The Saviour is Christ Jesus, declaring He is uniquely and infinitely qualified to serve as Saviour of sinners, even for a sinner like you and like me! Will you hear this good news and be attentive to Jesus from today on, remembering He is the Christ?  This title at the same time brings out how serious a matter it is to turn from Jesus and go your own way in sin and unbelief.  No one will get away with continually turning their backs on Jesus the Christ! 

To learn more the infinite significance and value of Jesus’ additional official name or title as the Christ let us move from the importance of this name as obviously shown in Scripture to think more on the meaning of this title, Christ.  What is its rich meaning and value? Do you know? Jesus being the Christ proclaims to us He is so great and grand a Saviour of sinners, indeed. No sinner is without hope going to the Saviour, and all sinners will find plenteous redemption trusting in Him. Yes, for don’t forget now, Jesus is the Christ! He is Christ Jesus, the Saviour of sinners. 

To learn His worth from this title we need to think about Jesus Christ as The Anointed One.  The whole Bible helps explain Jesus as the Christ, the Anointed One. In the Old Testament, being anointed meant being set apart and appointed and equipped for a specific task.  It also tells us about God having different people anointed with special oil for different offices.  The high priest, Aaron, was anointed into his office, and so was Elisha the prophet, and David the king, just to give you an example.  And now with Jesus the Saviour, He becomes anointed into the threefold office of prophet, priest, and king. And He is anointed not just with oil, but especially with the Holy Spirit Himself.  The Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove when Jesus was baptized, as we can read in Matthew 3 and the Holy Spirit remained with Jesus as He began His public ministry.  Jesus was not just anointed by the Holy Spirit, but with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit rested upon Jesus and remained with Him, equipping Jesus and enabling Him for His role that God gave Him as the Christ.  Jesus did His work as the Great Office-bearer “in the power of the Spirit” as we read in Luke 4:14, as the anointed One to the full.

And now to see more His worth as the Christ, just think of Jesus anointed to be our chief Prophet, our only high Priest, and our eternal King.  All the offices of the Old Testament were in preparation for Jesus’ coming, explaining and proclaiming all the more Jesus’ worth to us as the Christ.  Only Jesus Christ has been anointed to all three offices of prophet, priest, and king. Jesus Christ fulfilled and fulfills all these offices in a perfect most wonderful and blessed way. The prophets of old could only ever say, “Thus says the Lord”, but Christ Jesus comes to us as God come in the flesh saying “Verily, verily [Truly, truly], I say unto you!” and He came as the Heidelberg Catechism says, as the one “who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption.”

Likewise the high priests of old came always with animal sacrifices that could never satisfy fully for a single sin, and they offered prayers themselves that were stained with so much sin. But Jesus as our great high Priest comes as the Christ with nothing less than the perfect sacrifice of His own body in atonement for sin. With the result that by His precious blood there is now full remission of sin for His people, even for as many as repent and believe on Him. Furthermore, with Jesus the high Priest, we have a Saviour as Hebrews 7:25 says it, who “…is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them”, and seeing His intercession is always so absolutely perfect and God-pleasing!

Along the same line too, Jesus as anointed King, what a king He is!  So unlike the temporary and often weak and wayward kings and rulers of the Old Testament, even the best of them! Jesus is the Ruler over all, and always most just and righteous and all-powerful and merciful in all His ways.  See Jesus as the Christ anointed to be His people’s  eternal king Who, again as the Catechism puts it in such a short powerful statement, governs us by His Word, and Spirit, and who defends and preserves us (in the enjoyment) of that salvation He has purchased for us.

The worth of Jesus Christ anointed to be our chief Prophet, our only High Priest, and our eternal King, is so inestimable too when you think about it that with our fall into sin from Adam, and our resulting total depravity by nature, how we need no one less than this Christ Jesus, the promised Messiah, exactly as anointed in His three offices to be our Saviour and Lord. Have you not learned too, as all God’s true people do, that left to ourselves as sinners we surely have lost all true knowledge of God and the way of everlasting wisdom. But now with Jesus as chief Prophet fully revealing the gospel to us, there is hope for true knowledge of God again and real wisdom in life too.  Likewise, left to ourselves as fallen sinners, we can never be reconciled to God. No, on our own we only always increase our debt because of our sins and sinfulness.  But with Jesus Christ as great High Priest and His once for all sacrifice for sin on the cross of Calvary, His precious blood cleanses us from all sin when looking to Him!  “If we confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” [I John 1:9]!  Yes, through Christ Jesus, the great High Priest Saviour of sinners!  Because of our fall into sin too, God’s true people discover and confess, of ourselves never can we rule our lives rightly. Our enemies, especially our own sinful heart, and this wicked world, and the sly devil, will surely swallow us up in this life, and the next, left to ourselves. But this is the gospel. As the Christ, Jesus is also anointed as eternal King! As Jesus told His disciples too in Matthew 28:18 “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” This means He surely can and will save, and guard, and keep, and guide His people for now and forever! 

The worth of Jesus as the Christ anointed by the Holy Spirit into His threefold office of Prophet, Priest, and King tells us everything needed for the complete salvation of sinners like you and me, and for the enjoyment of that salvation already here and now and later forevermore in glory. That is all found with Jesus the Saviour. For remember, He is the Christ! The Saviour of sinners is Christ Jesus or Jesus Christ, proclaiming loud and clear to us there is no lack in Him and with Him, nowhere, not in any way nor for anyone who comes to Him and relies on Him and submits to Him.  No, says Paul, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified [proclaimed] in due time.”

The worth of Jesus as the Christ comes out also when you think of how all three offices come perfectly together in the Person and work of Jesus as Saviour of sinners.  Jesus is the one Mediator between God and men and He as the Christ is Mediator in a threefold, perfect, indivisible way, with all three offices of Prophet, Priest, and King embracing the whole of His life and all of His work.  You might say of Him as one commentator beautifully put it: As Prophet, Christ proclaims His kingly message with all the compassion of His priestly heart.  As Priest, suffering on the cross Christ testifies in a prophetic way, and with kingly authority He opens the door of Paradise to repentant sinners who come to Him.  And as King, at the time of His royal ascension into glory, Christ as prophet gives His disciples their marching orders to tell the good news to all, and as Priest, Christ lifted His loving arms in endless blessing over them even as He departed physically from them.  You see Jesus being the Christ is such precious gospel truth putting this altogether, and bringing out so much more His endless unspeakable worth as Saviour of sinners! Do you understand this with me now too, by God’s grace and Spirit, dear friends?

Jesus is the Christ, that is, our chief Prophet and our only High Priest and the eternal King for His people, and yes, His is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory now and forever!  False religions may acknowledge Jesus of Nazareth a little bit, but they discount Him as the Christ, putting other man-made prophets above Jesus, and other priests required besides Jesus, and other rulers instead of Jesus. If you are truly saved and a genuine Christian, you acknowledge Jesus as the Christ and you surrender to Him as your chief Prophet, only High Priest, and eternal King.  Do you so acknowledge Christ Jesus? If you don’t, you are not a Christian no matter how much you persuade yourself otherwise. Mormons are not Christians and neither are those belonging to the Jehovah Witness cult, or those belonging to the Muslim faith, or those who follow Roman Catholicism in its erroneous teaching and abominable worship practices.  

When you know and trust Jesus as the Christ, you learn and grow in realizing in Him is your all and all. Christ Jesus is the Saviour of inestimable worth! His personal name, Jesus, and His official title, Christ, tell us so and the combination of both names underline and underscore it beyond all dispute. Do you acknowledge Jesus’ worth as the Christ?  What can you possibly need that you can’t and won’t find in and with Him?  Are you looking for truth, for real understanding, for cleansing, for forgiveness, for peace, for guidance, for protection, for love, for hope, for deliverance from sin, Satan, and death, and escape from judgment? Are you looking for salvation rich and free, sure and complete, for security for body and soul, in life and death and forevermore?  Are you looking for heaven on earth and heaven eternal hereafter? You find it all with Jesus the Christ!  He is the Mediator, Christ Jesus, and this term, Mediator, presupposes controversy and trouble, and problems, and sin. But the man, Christ Jesus, can and has fully taken care of all the controversies and troubles that our fall into sin has brought us! The gospel tidings are that with Christ Jesus, repenting of sin and believing on Him, you and I can be and will be more than conquerors, living in grace and truth as God’s redeemed children here and now already, and then in the life to come forevermore perfectly so, in a way so glorious that words cannot express.

Hearing all this, I ask you: Does the title, Christ, with the name, Jesus, make you see and rejoice in Jesus Christ and His salvation for sinners like us? What a Mediator God has provided us!  How this title, Christ, which has become part of Jesus’ personal name even, should draw us to the Saviour for a first time, and time and time again! How it should motivate us when trusting and following Him to lift high this Name above every Name, the Name of Jesus Christ the Saviour!  God’s people in the Bible received the name Christian, Christ followers, according to Acts 11:26. Are you also a Christ follower, and Christ promoter in our day, yes, a Christian in word and deed, ever looking to Jesus Christ and abiding in Him and drawing from Him?

Surely when the Holy Spirit accompanies the preaching of Christ, this is the fruit. Then you are drawn to Him and believe on Him and you need Him and love Him so as your only Saviour and Lord, and you glory in Him above all! Yes, then you say with one of old, something like this:

We bless the Prophet of the Lord, That comes with truth and grace;

Jesus, thy Spirit, and thy word, Shall lead us in thy ways.

 

We reverence our High Priest above, Who offered up his blood,

And lives to carry on his love, by pleading with our God.

 

We honor our exalted King; How sweet are his commands!

He guards our souls from hell and sin, By his almighty hands.

 

Hosanna to his blessed name, Who saves by glorious ways;

The anointed Saviour has a claim, To our immortal praise. 

There is no true rejoicing in Jesus’ first coming and His birth in Bethlehem if you or I don’t agree or confess with this song of praise about Jesus being the Christ.  It is knowing and trusting and obeying Jesus as the Christ in this life, by God’s grace and Spirit, that also prepares us for Jesus’ second coming, who knows how soon now?  Just the Saviour’s title, Christ, along with His personal name, Jesus, declares what a blessing to know and follow Him in spirit and truth and so to live and die!

I want to mention yet how some of you live daily in a work or school context where you often hear God’s names taken in vain, also with the misuse of the names, Jesus and Christ, used as swear and curse words rather than words of praise and adoration.  It is not easy to bear with that and to address this always. But let me encourage you to bring the matter again and again to the Lord Jesus Christ. He can bless your witness of not so blaspheming God’s names, and He can bless your request that others from this evil refrain, and your positive testimony of the meaning of Jesus’ personal name being Saviour, and of His official title, Christ, being the Anointed One. Let us realize that this misuse of Jesus’ personal and official names in cursing reflects by itself something of the special power and worth of these holy names above all others!

Blessed be Jesus the Christ! The way to victory now and forever is ever to live in awe of Him. The Christian life is about being always attentive to Him as the anointed Saviour, and knowing His worthiness as the Saviour anointed into the threefold office of chief Prophet, only High priest, and eternal King, and time and again embracing Him in true faith and repentance as Christ Jesus, the one Mediator between God and men. Jesus is the Christ, which proclaims about the Christian gospel, truly, what a gospel to know and to tell!  Will it be reflected in your life these weeks before Christmas and as the years go by, that you believe Jesus, the Saviour of sinners, is the Christ?   Amen.

  Hans Overduin, Radio Pastor                  

HIS NAME IS JESUS

Dear friends, in the coming weeks before Christmas Day 2016, I invite you to reflect with me on four of the main names and titles given the Saviour of whom the Holy Bible tells us about.  Then on Christmas Day which is on the last Sunday of this year, we will consider the wonder of His birth, His incarnation as Emmanuel, God with us. This plan is purposeful on my part as Banner of Truth radio minister because with the new year, beginning January 1, 2017, Rev. Jack Schoeman, minister of the Free Reformed Church of Abbotsford, will take my place. I have been radio minister for fifteen and a half years and we are most grateful to God as Free Reformed Churches for another Christian gospel-focused minister now taking over this work. As I come to the end of my work in this role, it is fitting that we focus especially on the Savior Whom God in the fullness of time sent into this world to serve as the long promised almighty blessed Saviour of sinners.

So let us think on Him now, considering the four main names of the Saviour.  Do you know what they are?

In the Bible there are probably close to 200 names and titles for the Saviour. And not all of them together fully can describe Him as the precious and perfect Saviour He truly is for His people.  But there are four main names for the Saviour and they are ‘Jesus, Christ, Son, and Lord’. It is very special how the apostle Paul in his great explanation and defense of the gospel message of the Bible states also in Romans 1:3 that he was called and separated unto the gospel of God, “concerning his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord…”  Endless gospel tidings full of infinite good news is given us, we need to know, just with these four main name. And each name and title for the Saviour is inexhaustible good news and something to be so drawn by and heartily thankful about! 

Today’s message is on the first of the Saviour’s name, JESUS. This is our theme too, and we will consider how it is a name divinely chosen, delightfully proven, and infinitely inviting. 

His Name is Jesus, a name divinely chosen.  Here think with me how parents when they have a child are given the task to choose a name for their child.  Sometimes it is not so easy to pick a name.

God, of course, doesn’t need to search through the human collection of countless names that He could have chosen from.  No, we can be sure that from eternity He had already planned the name for the baby born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem long ago.  The name, which Paul calls in Philippians 2 “the name which is above every name” was to be Jesus.  His Name is Jesus. That is what God decided and determined, and it is striking actually how often the gospel accounts also highlight this very fact.

We read in Matthew 1:21 the angel told Joseph that Mary, who he was engaged to, was expecting a child.  He would be the promised Messiah child, miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit in her womb, and Joseph was to call Him Jesus. “…thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.” Then notice how at the end of Matthew 1 we are told when the baby was born, Joseph as the stepfather of the child did as the angel said, “and he called his name JESUS.”  Then we read in Luke 2:21 “And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”  Quickly this Jesus became known as “Jesus of Nazareth” [Mark 1:24] which we know was also Jesus’ hometown where He was raised after His birth in Bethlehem of Judah. In John 1:45 we are informed of Philip finding Nathanael to tell him of their discovery of the Saviour, the promised Messiah, saying to him, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth….”   

Now why would God have chosen this name for the Saviour?  One very plain reason is because that Name, JESUS, actually itself means Saviour.  Jesus came to serve as Saviour of sinners, for He shall save His people from their sins, the angel had told Joseph.  God gives His Son a name that reflects and proclaims and promises exactly what He came here to do. The wonder about all God’s names is that they are not just simply labels distinguishing Jesus, as with our names, no, but His names, are all actual descriptions of Jesus in every detail and way. God perfectly reflects and exhibits what His names state and describe. So the name Jesus, every time you see it or read it or hear it or pray in this Name, is to remind us, you and me and all people, that Jesus came to be Saviour, to save His people from their sins.  As one put it: His name Jesus, didn’t and doesn’t “just mean that His God saves; but it meant that HE [JESUS] was the God who saves. It proclaims right away and makes clear the particular mission Jesus had and would fulfill, namely, to save His people from their sins!  

Just the name Jesus then, as divinely chosen name for the Saviour, is so precious and full of gospel tidings. Don’t you think and say so too?  It makes very clear from the start that the gospel message is not about God the Father being so very upset and only angry toward sinners and out to destroy all of us and that His more gentle loving Son intervened and said, No, let me be a mediator and save sinners, and that God begrudgingly agreed. No, God the Father, together with the Son and the Holy Spirit, planned a way of salvation for guilty lost depraved sinners, and the Triune God chose this name, Jesus, for all the world to know Him as Saviour of sinners, and that in and through Him “Jehovah saves”. The Old Testament name of Joshua, which also means “Jehovah saves”, sheds light on the name Jesus. Joshua, after Moses, was used of God to bring the people triumphantly from the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt finally into the promised land of Canaan. Jesus is the greater than Joshua, and He came to seek and to save the lost, to bring sinners like us into the ultimate promised land, and what a Saviour of sinners He is as the crucified and risen Redeemer. 

Putting this altogether, don’t you agree that God Triune must have had so much joy in naming the baby born in Bethlehem JESUS?  Not only was this God’s chosen name for the Christ-child, but it was deliberately chosen with a holy passion that all the world could and would know JESUS of Nazareth has come with a divine mission and passion, and that is, wholly to live up to His Name. The only hope for this fallen world of sinners is the Saviour of sinners God sent, that Saviour with the name JESUS, Jesus of Nazareth!  Does just the name of Jesus for the Saviour bless your mind and heart, not just this coming season but in all your life? Shouldn’t we so love God the Father for choosing this particular name for His Son when come to this earth, and thank the Holy Spirit for letting us know His name as given so many times in Scripture, and be so drawn to the Saviour, just from His precious name, JESUS? His name is to be JESUS because He shall save His people from their sins.  How terrible when this name is used as a curse word as is so much done in our times, most thoughtlessly and carelessly and callously.  May God keep us, you and me, from the awful misuse of JESUS’ name, but rather always to give honour and praise to the Saviour and His Name, Jesus.

Yes, for notice our second main point about His Name, JESUS. It is a delightfully proven name too. By this I mean, how Jesus demonstrated in every way He is His name, and how He loved to live up to His name. 

We can say this because Jesus deliberately came into this world to seek and to save sinners as Luke 19:10 tells us. Jesus constantly also met with sinners. Not one person He met with here on earth was not a sinner and Jesus preached the good news to all, proclaiming Himself in His preaching and with His miracles as the one and only Saviour of sinners.  Jesus cast out demon spirits and reached out to sinful publicans and sinful Pharisees, to Jew and Gentile, making Himself known as the one who can forgive sins, and deliver us from death, and rescue us from the grave and give us escape from never-ending hell, and entrance into eternal heaven. Jesus showed Himself as the one who did bring peace and joy and saving healing power in our sin and misery.  There is no sin nor consequence of sin that Jesus proved unable to deal with triumphantly. With Him and His once for all sacrifice on Golgotha is plenteous redemption and perfect and everlasting reconciliation with God. And the gospels prove over and over there was and is no sinner Jesus refused to reach out to who came and comes even now to Him for His mercy and saving grace and power.

His Name is Jesus, and that name is delightfully proven by Jesus Himself also when He said as we can read in Matthew 20:28, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Jesus owned His Name and He prized it probably most of all on the cross of Calvary where Pilate had written on a sign above Jesus’ head, according to John 19:19, “JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS”. And we are told in the following verse this was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, meaning to say, by God’s design, all the world needs to see and hear this name Jesus, given and proven by Jesus’ finished work on sinner’s behalf.  His Name is Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins. See JESUS even when on the cross saving the repentant thief who cried to Him for mercy, and drawing to Himself that Roman centurion who acknowledged Jesus for Who He truly was and is. 

This name, JESUS, should always remind us of our greatest need as fallen sinners by nature, and the almighty complete provision of God on sinner’s behalf through the sin-atoning, blood-redeeming salvation sacrifice of Christ and Him crucified. Jesus would give Himself even to the death of the cross to seek and to save sinners.  And giving His all to save sinners like us, there is nothing God withholds from His people, as many as repent of sin and trust and follow Him.  In and with Jesus, the Saviour of sinners, we find full and free deliverance from all that is evil in and from us, and we are given instead full and free salvation blessings for soul and body, in life and death, for now and forevermore.

Just listen here to how the apostle John ends his gospel account in John 21:25, focusing on the endless glory and riches of Jesus as Saviour of sinners. After writing all he did in his gospel account by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he closes by saying, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written, every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.” In other words, John can’t say enough good news about Jesus the Saviour, that name of whom Peter writes in Acts 4:12, “Neither is there any other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”  The apostles, we read in Acts 5:42, ministered “…daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”  Why? Because Jesus was and is the only Saviour of sinners and what a Saviour of sinners He truly is in all His person and work, yes, as revealed to us just even in the name Jesus.  How powerful that in the very last chapter of the Bible, Revelation 22:16, we read also these words from the exalted Saviour as heard by John on the isle of Patmos, “I Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches….”   Even in eternal glory now, Jesus prizes His own personal God-given Name, and He would have all of us pay attention to this name most excellent and wonderful by itself.

“Do you understand and prize the name Jesus, given for the Saviour, as you might and should? Here listen to the summary teaching in the Heidelberg Catechism on the name Jesus as given in Q&A 29&30. Q29. Why is the Son of God called "Jesus", that is a Saviour? Answer:  Because he saves us, and delivers us from our sins; and likewise, because we ought not to seek, neither can find salvation in any other. Q30. Do such then believe in Jesus the only Saviour, who seek their salvation and welfare of saints, of themselves, or anywhere else? Answer: They do not; for though they boast of him in words, yet in deeds they deny Jesus the only deliverer and Saviour; for one of these two things must be true, that either Jesus is not a complete Saviour; or that they, who by a true faith receive this Saviour, must find all things in Him necessary to their salvation.

What faithful full gospel teaching this truly is, dear friends. How extremely sad it is that not only all too many people in the world just ignore Jesus as only Saviour, but that also all too many church people think of Jesus as perhaps just one of various Saviours, whoever people might choose. Still others, while acknowledging Jesus as only Saviour, yet fail to own and confess Him as complete and total Saviour of sinners, and instead wrongfully promote alongside of Him so-called co-redeemers like Mary, the mother of Jesus, or someone else, some so-called saintly person, all who are sinners in themselves and never can help to save anyone.  Here let me give what one put so well stating: There is no ‘both-and’ with Jesus, only ‘either-or’. Either Jesus is the only Saviour, the perfect Saviour, and your only comfort in life and death, or, Jesus is for you no Saviour at all

How true this Bible-based instruction is and I ask: Do you understand and believe this too with all your mind and heart and soul? His Name is JESUS, for He shall save His people from their sins. Not just from some of their sins and sinfulness, but all of it, from start to finish.  In his letter to the Galatians Paul warned so strongly against all who would teach and preach a gospel proclaiming Jesus plus something else. It is Jesus only who saves, and Jesus alone who saves, and He saves in His amazing grace completely, totally, now and forever, all by His glorious Person and finished work, without any contribution from elsewhere. In Jesus Christ we are to find our all in all; neither is there salvation in any other, no, not in any way, at any time, for anyone, anywhere! Is this not the testimony of all true Christians and what makes the Christian gospel message and faith in Jesus so distinct and comforting and liberating and life-changing beyond what all words can tell?  Here let me read a poem from John Newton written long ago when meditating on Jesus’ Name.

 

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

 

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;

’Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.

 

Dear Name, the Rock on which I build,
My Shield and Hiding Place,
My never failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!

 

By Thee my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled;
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.

 

Jesus! my Shepherd, Husband, Friend,
O Prophet, Priest and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
Accept the praise I bring.

 

Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I’ll praise Thee as I ought.

 

Till then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath,
And may the music of Thy Name
Refresh my soul in death!

 

Oh indeed, just the name JESUS tells us all this good news, these great gospel tidings, never-failing and never-ending!  His Name Jesus is so wonderful, being a name divinely chosen, delightfully proven, and lastly, infinitely inviting.  With this point, isn’t it true that Jesus calls His people to tell all the world about Him as one and only Saviour of sinners? What did Jesus say to His disciples in Acts 1:9 just before His ascension back into heaven? “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” And whom did Peter then proclaim when the Holy Spirit came upon them as told us in Acts 2? We read in Acts 2:22 Peter declaring, “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth…” and then he went on telling of Him as the crucified but risen Saviour of sinners. So he proclaims in Acts 2:32, “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses….” and he says further in vs.36, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made Jesus, whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ.”  Likewise, in Acts 8:35 we read of Philip, sent by God to reach out to the Ethiopian eunuch as that man was reading from the Old Testament book of Isaiah, chapter 53, but not understanding what he read, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at that same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” Jesus’ name just is infinitely inviting for all who have ears to hear. 

We live in a world that is lost in sin, blinded in false religion, and ensnared in mindless ungodliness, and empty worldliness, and devilish darkness, and despairing anguish, and constant lawlessness. Isn’t this evident in so many ways in so many lives, if you and I are honest, even just with the news of each day? The Christian gospel message is that only the Christ-child whose name is Jesus of Nazareth is both able and willing to save sinners from all their sins and sinfulness and the miseries therefrom now and forever. How then this gospel truth ought to compel the Christian church and all confessing believers to have such a passion and zeal for the gospel of Jesus Christ being proclaimed in truth and love to those around us and to the ends of the earth while it is yet the day of grace.

The name JESUS calls all to trust and follow Him as only Saviour. The name JESUS urges all to repent of sin and believe on Him, for He is His name! No one ever has come to Jesus calling for mercy only to discover this JESUS doesn’t live up to His Name.  No, listen here to 1 Timothy 1:15 where the apostle Paul exclaims, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” And he meant with that, if this JESUS can save a sinner like me, one who was a persecutor and murderer of Christians and blasphemer before God and others, if I can be saved by this JESUS, there is no one too great a sinner that He can’t save.  Just the Saviour’s personal name, JESUS, gives reason to go to Him, and just that name is enough to condemn forever all who refuse to hear His voice and will not come to Him. His Name is JESUS, and may just that Name above every name be so very dear to each and all of you.

It is surely true and, sadly, a fact that to bear witness of Jesus as the one and only Saviour of sinners in so much of this world lost in sin, can seem like news that many times just doesn’t go anywhere. Yet it is by the name of Jesus faithfully preached and testified of in word and deed, and only by that Name, that God Almighty in His sovereign grace and power will call and gather and save His people from their sins. In the end it is by the name of Jesus Christ bearing testimony to Him as one and only Savior of sinners, as once crucified and now forever risen and exalted Redeemer, that God by His Holy Spirit will bring in all the elect, with not even one of His people missing. God’s redeemed people will one day prove to be a countless multitude which no man can number, from every tribe and tongue and nation in all ages.  Will you be among that blessed company of sinners saved by grace and rejoicing in Jesus as only Saviour?  It is now yet the day of grace, and just the name, Jesus, for the Saviour of sinners, is infinitely inviting!  So Paul declares also in Romans 10:11-13, “For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thou shalt call his name JESUS, for He shall save his people from their sins.”  Will you live ever looking unto Jesus of Nazareth, the Author and Finisher of the faith, for yourself, and calling others to look to Him too while yet in this time of grace? For sure, what helps in being truly caring and emboldened to witness of Jesus and His precious name is glorying in this name, Jesus, above every other Name and seeing the endless worth of Jesus the Saviour.  And knowing with all your heart that except a person be joined to Jesus in true faith and saved by Him, there simply is no salvation for anyone and hell is absolutely certain for all apart from Jesus.  Isn’t that why history is still continuing, in fact, because Jesus is still out to seek and to save more sinners, also in and through us and your and my Christian testimony concerning Him?

 

What is in a name? So tremendously much when speaking of the name Jesus! The Saviour’s name above every name, one divinely chosen, delightfully proven, and infinitely inviting still. Oh, don’t miss this good news of the Christian gospel with the Saviour’s birth and the Christ-child being called, Jesus. Hallelujah! Amen!  

 

called Thanksgiving Day in October and the Americans having their Thanksgiving Day holiday this coming November weekend, today’s message is about being truly thankful to God.

Thanks be to God is a repeated phrase in the Bible. You find it for instance in 1 Corinthians 15:57, 2 Corinthians 2:14, 2 Corinthians 8:16, and 2 Corinthians 9:15.  Thanks be to God!  Let me read to you from some of the psalms expressing the call to live in godly gratitude to the LORD.  Listen to just part of Psalm 136:1-3 “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever. O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth forever. O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth forever, and then going to vs.26, the last verse, we read again, “O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth forever.” We find Paul saying in Colossians 3:15 to Christians in his day, “…and be ye thankful”. In 2 Thessalonians 1:3 the same apostle exhorts, “We are bound to give thanks always…..” These New Testament exhortations fit alongside the many Old Testament texts urging the same. “O give thanks unto the LORD” is a repeated phrase in both of them. The psalmist of Psalm 116 testifies in vs.17, “I will offer to thee [O LORD] the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.”

Is your mind and heart today and this week, are you thankful to the LORD and are you living in daily gratitude to the God of the Bible for all His mercies and loving kindnesses, day by day, week by week, year after year? With the national thanksgiving day in the USA this week, a time where many are given a holiday from work, even a paid holiday to give thanks, how good to pause, and consciously and conscientiously to express thanks to the LORD for all His blessings.  Do you know the thankful doxology expressed in song that urges us to:

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow,

Praise Him all creatures here below,

Praise Him above ye heavenly host,

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Amen.

Do you take time to give thanks to God and to show thanks also in meeting for Christian worship in praise to the one only true God from Whom all blessings flow? 

Surely when we are faithful and fruitful Christians, we know, by God’s grace, to give thanks to God is our lifelong calling and never should we be distracted from this calling. Always we should be more and more devoted in this calling, even for as long as we live.  The sad reality is, even for God’s people, too often we can fall into ungrateful complaining and murmuring rather than living lives of gratitude to God before Him and our neighbor. Murmuring and complaining in discontent was and is all too common a problem in our fallen world, even among those who may enjoy so much of this world’s treasures and pleasures. Paul writes in Philippians 2:14 these convicting words, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings” and in 1 Timothy 6:6 he says, by the Spirit of God, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”  David in Psalm 103 reminds himself of the calling to be thankful when he exhorts and encourages himself and others saying, “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”

So today let us just think some more about this call to give thanks to God.  Thanks be to God is our thankful theme and let us learn and/or remind ourselves of some basic Biblical teaching, Christian gospel teaching, about being truly thankful.

Let us notice first of all from God’s word that true thanksgiving is God-directed. Being truly thankful is not simply a certain feeling of happiness or a sense of contented fulfillment and accomplishment and security. Rather, true thanksgiving is God-focused acknowledgment and recognition of His boundless mercies to us. When the Bible says repeatedly ‘Thanks be to God’, it is a confession of faith in God where we confess that He has not dealt with us according to our sins and sinfulness, but in grace and lovingkindness has blessed us with countless gifts of love, even for soul and body.

Sadly, in this regard, isn’t it true each year again with Thanksgiving Day, much thanksgiving celebration and feasting on that special day and other times is not at all an expression of ‘Thanks be to God’. It is more a celebration of what people think of as their own achievements and good luck and success on their hard work.  But true Christians are different in acknowledging, as the psalmist of Psalm 139 also relates and expressed in a song based on that psalm: 

All that I am I owe to Thee,

Thy wisdom, Lord, has fashioned me;

I give my Maker thankful praise,

Whose wondrous works my soul amaze. 

‘Thanks be to God’ when it is true thanksgiving.  When you anticipate another Thanksgiving Day celebration this coming week, just consider how many reasons you have to be thankful to God. Has the LORD not been gracious and merciful to you another year in countless ways even? Think of the freedoms we enjoy in North America and the USA! Consider our housing blessings, our food and drink abundance, our transportation privileges, our medical benefits, our health blessings, our church blessings, our work opportunities still, our family joys, our clothing supplies, our luxuries of holidays and toys and leisure enjoyments, our parks and country and province and city infrastructures. And then, most of all, think of all our gospel privileges and riches with the Bible, and the gospel preaching, and so many occasions for learning more and more of the unspeakable gift of God as granted to us in and through Christ Jesus! When you compare the blessings enjoyed in the Western world for the most part, how much more than others is freely and daily granted to us, ultimately always from the LORD. 

Consider even just the fact of freedom of religion and that Christians may go to church openly. We may have the blessing of the preached gospel word and the two Christian sacraments of baptism and Lord’s Supper in addition to the Word preached on a regular basis. What about the blessing of enjoying and benefiting from the gift of the communion of saints together? Should we not be most thankful too that again God has blessed His church another year that in addition to providing for our own needs and that of our families, we could give for the cause of the Lord and the furtherance of His church and kingdom around the world? Then too, must we not say there is reason to be thankful for the way God helped through hard times again this past year? Were there not hard times in our lives, yours and mine, even perhaps now still? Yet the LORD has not forsaken His people and God in Christ promises and proves His comfort and help even in the darkest and most difficult and sorrowful of times.  How many Christians can speak of so much help from God above, even in the darkest and most difficult of times? Psalm 107 tells of different hard situations God’s people go through, but how God is always the almighty Saviour God for all who trust and follow Him. And then you have in that psalm the repeated text at least four times, “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!”

Yes, for there is so much reason to be thankful and our text now emphasizes, let us express our thanks to God above, our Triune God as revealed in Christ, the Saviour of sinners.  We read in Luke 17 the story of the ten lepers healed by Jesus at their request, but only one came back to give thanks to the Saviour. Only one, the Samaritan, “turned back and with a loud voice glorified God and fell down on his face at his [Jesus] feet, giving him thanks.”  Are you today and this Thanksgiving week, thinking now especially of the Americans, like that healed leper, so thankful to God his Saviour? Or not? The other nine lepers healed by Jesus failed to be thankful to God. Are you more like them who had no thought or time to be thankful to God? Or are you like the one who humbly and joyfully thanked the Lord Jesus for His mercies to him?  If we are honest, isn’t it true, even as Christians, are we not all more quick to pray to God for help and blessing than to thank Him for His help and His blessings?  Thanks be to God, our text exhorts, as Paul says too in 1 Corinthians 4:7, For who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory [boast] as if thou hadst not received it?

Thanks be to God, for of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, and to God alone be all the glory. Every good and perfect gift in life for body and soul always comes from the LORD in His mercy and lovingkindness to us.  Yes, we can be thankful to others in our lives, to each other in our families, and to one another in the congregations we worship, and to those serving for our good in one way or another in our lives, in our society and country and government, etc. But ultimately our thanksgiving is to be God-focused and God directed. Sing praise to Him and give Him thanks, And all His goodness show is the exhortation of Scripture as expressed also in a song based on Psalm 147. “Unto thee, O God do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks…” the psalmist says in Psalm 75:1. If it is well, dear friends, not just on Thanksgiving holidays, but from day to day and all our life long, there are boundless reasons for this to be our testimony before God and each other and before the watching world. Thanks be to God!

When you and I are thankful especially to God for all His mercies and blessings, that too is something by itself to be so thankful for. It is not because you are better than others that you live thankfully before God and others, but God has so blessed you under the ministry of His Word and by His Holy Spirit that, by His grace, you have come to see, when it is well, your thanksgivings must be focused on the LORD. For His goodness and mercy endures forever and God Triune has planned and accomplished a way that His people, as many as turn from sin and trust in Him, might know this gospel truth and enjoy this most wonderful blessing of God for ourselves not only in this life, but even forevermore in the world to come! 

Here we come also to a second key truth that our text phrase teaches us about Thanks be to God.  Very interestingly the New Testament word for “thanks” is closely related and almost interchangeable to the word also for “grace”.  And what we can learn from this also is that true thanksgiving to God is known and shown when you and I realize and cherish also the grace of God towards us as revealed in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners. The reality about our sinful selves by nature is that we are always underserving of every blessing from God, being a guilty, defiled, sinful people by nature.  You and I, along with this whole fallen world, deserve of ourselves only God’s everlasting wrath and temporal and eternal punishment for all our sins and sinfulness. 

But the gospel tidings of the Bible proclaim the precious good news that God sent His only beloved Son to be the Saviour of sinners. That Saviour, Jesus Christ, come in the fullness of time, left the riches and comforts of heavenly glory to come to this earth as Sinbearer and to serve as perfect complete Saviour of sinners. What a Man of sorrows He was here on earth when bearing the curse of God on sinner’s behalf, and suffering the relentless assaults of Satan against Him and the mocking and scoffing of sinners in ridicule of Him. What poverty and hunger and shame and pain Jesus suffered bearing the sins of His people. It all climaxed, as we know, on the cruel cross of Calvary where He was crucified in the sinner’s place to make atonement for sin and to reconcile sinners like us to God His Father.  What indescribable agonies of soul and body He suffered on the cross in making full payment for sin and at the same time offering up to God a perfect righteous life on the sinner’s behalf.  God’s people never can forget it, and always come back to this: How all our blessings for soul and body come to us ultimately because of Christ the Saviour and His once for all sacrifice on the sinner’s behalf. 

And the exceeding riches of God’s grace towards us is boundless in and through Christ the Lord! The expression “thanks be to God” is used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:57 when telling of Christ’s victory over sin, Satan, death, and hell for His people, even for as many as trust and follow Him in true faith and repentance.  “But thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”  Yes, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift” as freely granted to us in and with Christ, the crucified and risen Redeemer, Who gave His life a ransom for many. In and through the Saviour, Jesus Christ, trusting and following Him as only Saviour and Lord, you and I may have our sins washed away and our sinfulness overcome. And we become more than conquerors over Satan and this world, and we have victory even over death. True Christians looking to Jesus the Saviour and abiding in Him and His Word are guaranteed, by God’s grace, certain escape from eternal hell and sure entrance into heaven for everlasting life. And in glory the redeemed live in fullness of life, being there in body and soul in endless praise and joy and peace forevermore in the blessed presence of God in the new heavens and earth, world without end. Dear friends, what can compare to such blessing above all? 

True thanksgiving recognizes this and confesses this Christian gospel truth and treasure.  It makes God’s people also on special days and times of thanksgiving most thankful, even when this year times may be tough, money may be short, health may be failing, and loved ones even dying. Do you know what the believers in the Old Testament said accordingly in the last verses of Habakkuk 3? Glorying in God’s forgiving grace in the promised Messiah, they testified, regardless their present circumstances, “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall the fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet will I rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like the hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.”

The truth is, the poorest Christian on earth, knowing the grace of God in Christ Jesus and the love of God the Father for Jesus’ sake and the comforting ministry of the Holy Spirit as sent by the Father and the Son, has far more reasons for thanksgiving to God than the richest man on earth who doesn’t know and believe in God as revealed in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners. Thanks be to God is thankfulness saturated with the receiving and realizing and rejoicing in the grace of God for us in and through Christ, the Saviour of sinners.  Do you do this and will your thanksgiving celebrations in life also reflect this Christian thankfulness?

Unbelievers are not truly thankful to God. Oh, in this coming week they may celebrate Thanksgiving Day too, yet doing so with not even mentioning God as the source of every blessing in life. Sadly, even in the so called Christian West in our present day, how few pray and give thanks for their daily bread even. How sad, as if all the food and drink just came there by itself and that it can nourish and strengthen us all on its own accord? Do any of us have any idea how much the body has to work well together for a single morsel of food or drink of water truly to be of blessing to us?  To be mindful of this and to allow a word of grace with the turkey dinner, but then still deny and not believe and trust and follow Christ Jesus, God’s most precious gift of all for us, one so desperately needed by each one of us shall we be truly saved is the height of wicked wretched ingratitude.  God forbid any of you now will so live and die, never really confessing and demonstrating Thanks be to God!  Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:14, “Now thanks be to God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ”. Isn’t that the heartbeat of true Christian thanksgiving when it is well with us?

Thanks be to God truly expressed, as taught in the Bible, is thanks from you and me that is God-focused, and thanks that is grace-minded, and recognizing that every blessing in life is all for Jesus’ sake alone. Such is Christian thanksgiving, and may it be much evident in our lives not just with special Thanksgiving Days, but all the days of our life.

Saying that, we also need to mention yet one more truth just from the repeated Scripture phrase, Thanks be to God. Not only does this phrase bring out true thanksgiving is a matter always God-focused and grace-minded, but also it relates giving thanks is never a ‘one-item’ matter nor a ‘one-time’ thing. It is a lifetime calling. While the word “thanks” is in the original in the singular yet it is to be understood as a lifetime of thanks. Is there not endless reasons for you and me to have a wholehearted attitude and mindset of constant gratitude to God for Who He is and what He has done, and what He promises and pledges and gives from out of His abundance of mercy, all for Jesus’ sake alone? “O give thanks, O give thanks, O give thanks” the psalmist of Psalm 136 exhorts. Why? Because, as is repeated 26 times in that one psalm just, “for his mercy endures forever.” The word for mercy there in the Hebrew is ‘hesed’ which is the beautiful full covenant term telling of God’s lovingkindness towards us in and through His salvation work by Christ Jesus.  Literally the second half of the text confesses 26 times, forever is God’s covenant love and loyalty towards us.  As one Study Bible put it, All God does throughout this world [and especially for His people] is soaked in His faithful love.

Surely never can we be done giving thanks to God then for all His mercies now and forevermore in and through Christ, and always there is reason for thankful thoughts, words, and deeds before God and others when one of God’s redeemed children.  One way of giving thanks is with showing our gratitude to God by giving of our first-fruits to the Lord for the ongoing gospel ministry of the Word. Thankfulness is not for nothing described in terms of thanksgiving, giving also of our tithes in praise to God and in care for those around us. There are other ways we can show thanks too, and that is by loving service to others and for and in God’s church and kingdom as God gives us opportunity.  Just being polite and courteous to others and showing a spirit of humble thanksgiving for the least blessing and care shown is so up-building and God-honoring too. 

The point is, being thankful truly can wonderfully be shown in so many ways, can’t it? And being genuinely thankful isn’t only a one-time act, but a heart-felt lifetime calling when it is well with us. Yes, then we say with the psalmist of Psalm 116 as expressed in yet another song:

What shall I render to the Lord, For all His benefits to me?

How shall my soul by grace restored,

Give worthy thanks, O Lord, to thee?

 

Salvation’s cup of blessing now, I take, and call upon God’s Name;

Before His saints I pay my vow,

And here my gratitude proclaim.

 

Within His house, the house of prayer, I dedicate myself to God;

Let all His saints His grace declare,

And join to sound His praise abroad.

Even so, will you, by God’s grace, give thanks to Him? If you are one who doesn’t know this spirit of true thanksgiving before God and your neighbor, why not ask the LORD to teach you this spirit of true Christian thanksgiving? Come to Jesus to learn what it means truly to be thankful before God and your neighbor. You may come to Jesus even now and ask Him to lead you too in true Christian thanksgiving. Don’t live on being unthankful before God and others even a single day longer. 

There is nothing more delightful and meaningful and enriching than living a life of true thanksgiving to God ever testifying in thought, word, and deed before Him and our neighbors, Thanks be to God! Lives lived in true thanksgiving are most blessed lives and of so great blessing also for those around them.  Who wouldn’t far rather live with a thankful person than someone unthankful and complaining always, and being disgruntled and dissatisfied on so many fronts?  God help us be truly thankful at home, at work, at school, in our church, and in our community because it is so pleasant and good and fruit-bearing and God-honoring above all when you and I so live each day. Isn’t being truly thankful in the threefold way explained here also the best preparation for the world to come where eternal thanksgivings will be given to God by all the redeemed, world without end?

Oh, give thanks unto the LORD here and now for the LORD is good, and His mercy endures forever.  Thanks be to God! Yes, thanks be to the LORD even for teaching and exhorting us ever to give thanks to Him as is His due!  The apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  And it is only through Christ Jesus and being joined to Him in true faith and repentance that we learn the way of true thankfulness now and forevermore.  Thanks be to God also now for this message on true and everlasting thanksgiving. Are you thankful to God for this Christian thanksgiving message?  Amen.

Hans Overduin, Radio Pastor           

Dear friends, today we have the privilege to consider the delightful Bible-based Christian doctrine of God’s providence. It is all very related to last week’s message on God the Father.  When you and I know, by God’s grace, God as our Father in and through Christ Jesus, we may also be assured of His tender care and provision, His providence in our lives. So for the main text in Scripture with this message we have the words of 1 Peter 5:7. There God’s people are instructed to live humbly before God in dependence on Christ the Saviour, casting our cares or burdens in life upon Him, because He cares so infinitely much for all His people.

 “Humble yourselves therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.” [1 Peter 5:6&7] Let us consider then the doctrine of God’s providence, learning that He is such a caring God over all His creatures and especially His people. The delightful doctrine of God’s providence is beautifully explained in summary form for us both in the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 10, and in the Belgic Confession, Article 13, which we will also refer to in this message. Considering God’s providence let us think about the explanation of this doctrine, some illustrations of it, and truly benefiting from this doctrine of God and His providence. My prayer is that you will be drawn and compelled by God’s Spirit and Word now to respond in true faith as Peter exhorts in 1 Peter 5:7, “casting all your care upon him [the Lord] for He careth for you”.

First let us think about what the doctrine of God’s providence means.  Literally the word from the Latin means “to see beforehand”.  This is something we need to realize, that nothing in each and all our lives and, in fact, in all of world history and in reference to anything and everything in all the vast universe is unknown to God! It is staggering to realize that with God Triune there is nothing in all the world that He is unaware of and that ever could or would come as a surprise to Him.  So we read in Isaiah 46:9&10 the Lord saying, “I am God and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times, the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.”  So this right away should encourage God’s people about the one true God, don’t you think? The Lord God of the Bible, the Triune God in Christ Jesus, is all-knowing about all things, past, present, and future, and never ever in any situation, or with anyone, or with whatever, does He say or have to say: Oh, I didn’t realize this or that, it was something unexpected from my side.

But we need to go on, for God’s providence means much more than this. Not only is God aware of everything always everywhere, but also He actually guides and governs all things, whatever happens anywhere at any time.  The Lord is not someone who simply created this world only to leave it then to itself.  This is the teaching of deism which suggests at best God is like a clockmaker. A clockmaker makes clocks and watches, winds them up, and then never has anything to do with them again unless they break down. But God never just created this world and left it to operate on its own. No. God who created all things maintains and sustains everything He created by His fatherly hand.

The facts are this whole universe, both before and after the fall, from its origin by God’s hand to the present day in every detail of it, is not self-existent in any degree, and never will be. So Paul also states in Acts 17:28, it is in and from God that we live and move and have our being. In Job 34 and Psalm 104 we learn that if God removes His sustaining upholding hand on His creation and everything in it, then this created world and every creature in it, including people, just couldn’t exist any longer. You are plainly mistaken when you think this universe and everything and everyone in it could just keep going as is without God’s supporting ongoing care for this world.  No, regardless what people say and surmise, or what unbelieving scientists may promote, this is the solemn indisputable fact. The whole vast universe, especially also the planet earth, is dependent daily on God for existence itself!

Cast all your care upon the Lord for He knows all things always and He guides and upholds all things always.  But there is still more that brings out the fullness of this delightful doctrine of God’s providence.  What we further need to know and be aware of is how Scripture teaches us God as the God of providence guides all things for the glory of His name and the good of His people now and forevermore.  In other words, the Lord in His providence in an almighty way leads and guides whatever happens in our lives for the wellbeing of His people and the increase of His Church and ultimately for the coming of His eternal kingdom, and all to the endless praise of His great and holy Name, as revealed in Christ Jesus. Yes, even those things that by themselves may seem so contrary and against us, He can have work together for good in ways most amazing and unimaginable. This is such a great comforting doctrine, especially in the times of suffering one or other calamity or setback, humanly speaking. Rightly does the Belgic Confession in Article 13 state about this doctrine of God’s providence that it affords unspeakable consolation, since we are taught thereby that nothing can befall us by chance, but by the direction of our most gracious and heavenly Father, Who watches over us with a paternal care.   Do you hear with me in all this what reasons to cast all your care upon the LORD for this is the gospel truth: God cares for us, does He ever

Doesn’t Jesus also teach us this very truth in Matthew 10:29-30 where He says to His disciples, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” In connection with these words from Jesus not only in Matthew 10 but also Matthew 6, someone wrote a little poem entitled, “The Robin and the Sparrow".

Have you heard it before? It goes like this.

Said the robin to the sparrow,
“I should really like to know,
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.”
Said the sparrow to the robin,
“Friend I think that it must be,
That they have no Heavenly Father,
Such as cares for you and me.”

Is this something helpful now for you to hear and consider in your life’s circumstances even at this time perhaps?

  The delightful doctrine of God’s providence. This Christian truth teaches us that God knows all things beforehand always, and, in fact, He leads and guides all things in this whole world, and that He so much uses His providence for the good of His people. Yes, so that nothing ever is left to fate, and as the Heidelberg Catechism puts it, yea, all things come not by chance, but by His fatherly hand.  

The great challenge with this doctrine is the question about the things evil and harmful and hurtful that comes to us in our lives. When wicked people do things against us, or calamities come our way, is that too directed by God? Is God the cause of evil? Is He involved in sin and Satan’s ways?  Does the LORD cause those tragedies we hear of every day? How can a good God be participant in evil in any way? 

In answer to that we have to say, as James 1:13-15 makes clear, God is never the cause of evil and in no way ever a participant in evil, though always He guides and controls all things, including evil things.  This may be hard for us to grasp, but it is the wonderful truth taught in God’s word.  Satan and all evil of any kind by anyone can never ever, as one put it, create a space that is free from God’s control or that escapes His purposes. Nothing ever is outside of God’s oversight and ultimate control.  Isn’t that just a most encouraging gospel truth living still in this sinful wicked world here and now? How wonderful to know and be assured from the delightful doctrine of God’s providence that God is infinitely good and yet also infinitely powerful and all-wise, and as such He is fully capable of making use of whatever and whoever in all the world for the purposes of His good pleasure and will.

While we admittedly cannot fully understand this all, how true what Guido de Bres wrote in the Belgic Confession, again in Article 13, in regards to God’s providence even in using things evil.  Nothing happens in this world without [God’s] appointment; nevertheless, God neither is the author of, nor can be charged with, the sins which are committed. For His power and goodness are so great and incomprehensible, that He orders and executes His work in the most excellent and just manner, even when devils and wicked men act unjustly. And as to what He does surpassing human understanding, we will not curiously inquire into it further than our capacity will admit of, but with the greatest humility and reverence adore the righteous judgments of God which are hid from us, contenting ourselves that we are disciples of Christ to learn only those things which He has revealed to us in His Word without transgressing these limits.  

Why may God’s people, trusting and following Christ as only Saviour and Lord, cast all their cares and worries and burdens and struggles on the Lord time and again? Because God cares for us, does He ever! Why, God gave His own beloved Son to seek and to save sinners like us, even to the death of the cross.  So now, led and cared for by His fatherly hand in and through Christ Jesus, you may know you are guided by One Who is all-knowing and all-powerful, He Who is ever gracious and good and righteous in all His ways. As the LORD of hosts, the One only God with infinite resources at hand is able and willing to use whatever and whoever whenever and wherever He pleases, to accomplish that which is both for the glory and praise of His Name, and at the same time for all His people’s ultimate and eternal good.

So, looking to Jesus, cast all your care upon the LORD as your Father for He tenderly truthfully cares for you for Jesus’ sake. You can bring your sickness to Him, your impossible work pressures, your ongoing family sorrow or marriage trial, or financial need, or this or that unsolvable struggle and deep distress in your life.  God’s providence is about, as the Catechism states in Q&A27, The almighty and everywhere present power of God, whereby as it were, by His hand, He upholds and governs, heaven, earth, and all creatures, so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, and all things come, not by chance, but by His fatherly hand.  

What a kind, beautiful, and comforting doctrine is the Bible’s teaching of God’s providence, telling of God’s care over all His creatures, and His special care for all His people.  For non-Christians and heathens the alternative to believing in the God of providence is holding to empty beliefs that are fatalistic, cold, heartless, and comfortless, and simply vain and futile. How we should grieve that the damnable error of the Epicureans, who say that God regards nothing, but leaves all things to chance is so prevalent in so many forms today, especially also in the teaching of evolution and astrology, and so-called open theism and pagan idolatry which are all lies of the devil, deceiving all too many. What can compare to the true and delightful Biblical teaching of God our Creator being also the God of providence and the mighty Saviour God too? Oh, to be led by the God Who is the Good and Great Shepherd of His sheep, truly you may know He will lead you, no matter what your course in life, in green pastures and through all the ups and downs in life in the way everlasting.  No good thing will He withhold from them that trust and follow Him, and while weeping may endure for a night, joy comes in the morning. 

Cast all your care upon Him, considering the explanation of the doctrine of providence and considering now some illustrations of the doctrine of God’s providence.  Here let me just give some examples from the Bible which is challenging because where do I stop? For there are so many examples. But take the life story of Joseph in the book of Genesis.  When you read about his life including all the hardships and evils he endured yet how God guided all things to make him a great leader in Egypt for the good of His people. It is such an amazing story!  When in Genesis 50 the brothers of Joseph are worried he might act revengefully against them for their past sins against him, Joseph responds in faith saying, “Ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”  The psalmist mentions how afflictions have turned to his profit by God’s gracious, almighty, fatherly hand. In Psalm 34:19 we read too, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivers him out of them all.”  The classic Old Testament example of God’s providence working also over and above Satan’s wicked schemes and ways is, of course, the story of Job. That story is not simply a myth, but actual history showing God’s blessed providence to be trusted even in the most difficult and darkest of times. Think too of the beautiful true story of Ruth in the Old Testament. Ruth, who just happened to land in the field of Boaz the first day she gleaned in Bethlehem of Judah.  Clearly, as the book makes known, that was by God’s overruling hand, guiding all things also in her life as she entrusted herself to the one true God and forsook the false idols gods of Moab, her home country by birth.

The amazing fact of God’s providential ways also just with these true examples from Bible history is that God never simply guides us as puppets on a string. But when He chooses to use means, He guides and works together all things of life according to His good pleasure for His great glory and for our ultimate wellbeing.  Another amazing thing about God’s providential ways is how He can and does make use of the simplest and smallest means even to accomplish great things. In the story of Paul the missionary you have that awesome account in Acts 23 about Paul’s nephew becoming aware of a plot by some Jews against Paul’s life with the result that Paul gets escorted by a solider company of 470 men from Jerusalem to Caesarea!   Why, God has used animals even in His kind providence and care for His people.  Think of that ram in the thicket on Mt. Moriah where Abraham went with Isaac. And what about that whale that swallowed Jonah and brought the resistant prophet in the direction he should go? When young David brought a lunch and some food for his brothers on the battlefield, in God’s providence that was so directed that he came there just when wicked, godless Goliath was bellowing out his curses and threats. The rest of the story of how David confronts and conquers that ungodly giant is told in 1 Samuel 17. So many more true stories from Bible history could be told here showing and proving God’s almighty delightful providence in the lives of His people.

The most wonderful and powerful story of God’s providence is that of the Lord Jesus when here on earth.  The Saviour came in the fullness of time, and by God’s providence the Lord guided all things that even when mankind, Jew and Gentile, would so work against Christ and seek for his death and destruction, yet at the same time God was working to accomplish His salvation purposes. The Jewish leaders in plotting Jesus’ death wanted by all means that it not take place during the Passover feast, but by God’s overruling providence it happened just then. God led it so that all the world might see and know Jesus is the Passover Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Let all find refuge in Him to escape God’s righteous judgment against sin and sinners. The point to  take home for ourselves is how while the people involved with Jesus’ crucifixion were each and all responsible for their own actions, at the same time God was in control accomplishing His salvation purposes in His grace and mercy.

Notice how this comes out so clearly in Peter’s Pentecost sermon in Acts 2:23-24. Speaking of Jesus and Him crucified, Peter declares, “Him [Jesus Christ], being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God has raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of [held by] it.”  The gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified and risen again shows and proves the delightful doctrine of God’s providence in its fullest light and glory.  Jesus and Him crucified declares to you to cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you! You need no greater evidence, and you will not find greater evidence, than Christ and Him crucified and risen again, so proving God’s providence and the power and beauty of it.

What a caring God the Father is, being willing even to give up His Son to the death of the cross for the salvation of sinners like us! What a caring Saviour the Lord Jesus is, having to forego the Fatherly care and love of God for Himself when He, as Substitute for sinners, would lay down His life and pay the full and just punishment for sin in the sinner’s place.  The Lord Jesus suffered and endured the just banishment of God against Himself that for sinners like us, as many as repent of sin and believe in Christ Jesus as their Savior, might know and enjoy the providential lovingkindness of God in all their ways.  All things were against Christ as Sinbearer in this life that all things might be for us in this life, nothing excepted, through the lovingkindness of God for Jesus’ sake.  It is astoundingly wonderful the way God’s gospel purposes and His providences go hand in hand.

We have in part explained the doctrine of God’s providence somewhat, and given a few illustrations of it, all in promotion of casting all your care upon the Lord for truly He cares for you. What about the third point, truly benefiting from God’s providence?  The gospel truth is, to benefit from God’s providence and know and enjoy its great comfort, faith in God is essential. It is only those who trust and follow the Saviour of sinners as revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ who can know the blessings of God’s providence.  If you refuse to repent of sin and will not trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as only Saviour from sin, what then?  Instead of having the God of providence as your Saviour God, guiding all things for good in your life, the holy and righteous God must condemn you and cast you away under His just wrath and to eternal punishment.  So the wise man in Proverbs 3:6 also passionately exhorts, “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.” Dear friends, you won’t have the Christian doctrine of God’s providence be to your damnation rather than your salvation and exaltation, will you? Don’t, I plead with you in Jesus’ Name, discount the gospel of Jesus Christ considering also just the delightful doctrine of God’s providence!  1 Peter 5:7 can only be benefited from when you and I, as Peter says in vs.6, humble ourselves before the Lord, submitting in all our ways to Him and His gospel word. Is that what you do, by God’s grace?

Then too, benefiting from God’s providence, let us remember to be thankful for every providence of God in our lives pointing us and leading us and prompting us in His ways, and away from the paths of sin and ungodliness.  How much God’s redeemed people owe to God’s almighty, splendid, gracious providences in their lives! This is what every true Christian will confess and profess. And what a delight to hear and tell one another of God’s gracious, kind, manifold providences in our lives.  It is one of the joys of Christian fellowship together. Won’t it be a matter of endless delight in heaven for God’s people there to hear from each other the countless stories of God’s providences in their lives? How different in hell for all the wicked and unbelieving there, always at enmity with God and each other, gnashing their teeth in pain and shame and always screaming in pain and endless agony in body and soul. Oh, hear the word of the Lord then in connection with God’s providence when even in His providence God has you now hearing this message, urging one and all: Humble yourselves before God and cast all your care upon Him for He cares for you.

With benefiting from God’s providence, we need to learn also to look not short-term at things, but long-term. Even those dark and dreadful things that may happen in our lives or our lifetime, we need to see in view of God’s ultimate goal and sure promises.  Isn’t that what also guided William Cowper to write long ago:

God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform;

He plants his footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm…

His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour;

the bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower… 

In summary, Q&A28 of the Heidelberg Catechism asks how we should benefit from God’s providence. How should it be of advantage for God’s people to know that He has created and by His providence does still uphold all things? The Bible-based Christian answer given is: That we may be patient in adversity, thankful in prosperity, and that in all things which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, [believing] that nothing shall separate us from His love, since all creatures are so in His hands that without His will they cannot so much as move.

What a powerful, God-exalting, Christ-honoring, Spirit-glorifying, upbuiding, and comforting doctrine the beautiful doctrine of God’s providence is! Do you, by God’s grace and Spirit, know and demonstrate this too? That means exemplifying in spirit and truth in your confession and conduct 1 Peter 5:6&7, humbling yourself before God, and time and again casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. May God Triune so bless this His word which in His kind providence He grants us to hear. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Hans Overduin, Radio Pastor               

Do you know what the apostle John writes in holy thankful jubilation in 1 John 1:3? He exclaims there in Christian excitement, “And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” Let us think together about what true Christians around the world believe when saying in spirit and truth what is also stated in the first article of the so-called Apostles’ Creed: I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. Christians may have God as their Father and what that means most wonderfully is expressed beautifully in the 16th century Reformation Heidelberg Catechism in Q&A 26.

The question asked to the Christian there is: What do you believe when you say, I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth? [Answer]:That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them; Who likewise upholds and governs the same by His eternal counsel  and providence), is for the sake of Christ His Son, my God and my Father; on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt but He will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body; and further, that He will make whatever evils [trials and hardships] He sends upon me, in this valley of tears, turn out to my advantage, for He is able to do it, being Almighty God, and willing, being faithful Father

Isn’t that quite the confession of faith, dear friends? Do you see and hear how it is in line with the main Scripture text for this message, “And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”? 

How encouraging and comforting to know and live out, by God’s grace and Spirit, the Christian teaching of having God as our Father in and through Christ Jesus!  How important to notice here that speaking of God as our Father, the Christian meaning of that is not referring only to God being the Father of creation, as marvelous as that is. Nor even on God being the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as awesome as that is. But no, even more, it is telling us that the one God of creation and only God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is also “our Father” by grace through faith in Christ Jesus.  The one true God, indeed, the only God, supreme over all and Creator of the whole universe, is “my Father” the Christian may believe in and through Christ Jesus.   To know and believe in God as “God our Father” and being in Him and receiving from Him is a most precious Christian reality.  When it is well with your and my soul, as confessing Christians this matter isn’t dry and dead doctrine, no, but blessed and most wonderful gospel truth beyond words. “And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” May this Christian gospel teaching grip us all now in mind and heart in the way of true faith and conversion and consecration before God and our neighbors.  

To that end, in thinking about God as our dear Father, as Christ and the apostles also surely meant that concept and relationship, let us consider the following four points:

1.  It’s uniqueness!

2.  It’s basis!

3.  It’s riches!

4.  It’s delightfulness!

First, it’s uniqueness! The reality is, dear friends, only Biblical Christianity speaks of being in a relationship with God as our Father.  All other religions and cults of this world know not this wonderful gospel truth.  Every man-made religion either promotes God as a being so far removed from us and wholly uninterested in us, or speaks of God as a being only ever demanding to us, and always insisting on us doing this or that to appease him and please him. Or, on the other hand, false religions speak of God as being so much like us that he can’t be distinguished from us at all really. Heathen religions such as the Muslim faith, and also the Jewish orthodox faith, don’t present God or know Him as a personal Being of grace and mercy and lovingkindness and as One Who literally will be as a father to his children.  Others, especially those promoting a false brand of Christianity, speak of God as just a single being who is only always generous and kind as long as you behave yourself in life.  For many people God is like a lifeless, unfeeling, cold, heartless vending machine where as long you put in your contribution, God will serve you as you expect and like.  

But the Christian religion, the only true faith as taught in the Bible, tells us of the one true triune God as being, indeed, wholly other than ourselves, and infinitely above us, and yet the very God who will come so lovingly close to us and with us! Yes, the Holy Bible teaches us God, the one true God, is majestic and supreme and pure beyond description and eternally independent, and still at the same time, He is the very God Who will be as our Father to us and for us.  The infinitely removed God from us will truly come so absolutely close in relationship with us that we may call out to Him and relate with Him in the intimate relationship of knowing Him as our Father.

To give Scripture evidence of this gospel truth is not hard.  Think of Jesus’ words as resurrected Saviour speaking to Mary Magdalene as recorded in John 20:17b.  There Jesus said to Mary, “Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God and your God.”  Isn’t Jesus teaching here that God’s people may know and trust the Lord their God as their Father?  Doesn’t Jesus teach the same too with the opening words of the Lord’s Prayer which He gave for His children to pray? What is the first line of the Lord’s Prayer? How may we address God coming to Him in all our needs and cares?  “When ye pray”, says Jesus in Luke 11:2, “say, Our Father, Who art in heaven….”  We read also from Romans 8 those triumphant verses [14ff] where Paul states, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”

The term “father” reflects a person who tenderly loves us and genuinely cares for us, someone we can go to in all our cares and needs as children. The Christian faith declares that so God will be for His people! Again, this is the grand distinction of Christianity: The Christian gospel message proclaims a God Who will be our Father.  Do you understand and confess this uniqueness of the Christian faith?  J.I. Packer in his classic book, Knowing God, states how this is the test for how well you understand Christianity. You sum up the whole of the New Testament teaching in a single phrase, if you speak of it as “a revelation of the Fatherhood of the holy Creator.” A right description of the whole of Biblical Christianity in the light of the New Testament “is the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father.” As Packer put it: If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he [or she] makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls [your] worship and prayers and [your] whole outlook on life, it means that [you] do not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, [and] everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctly Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God.

How true these words are, and so I ask you again: Do you understand and believe for yourself this uniqueness of the Christian religion, proclaiming God as the Father God for all His people? It is good here to ask: How can it be that God the Holy One, so infinitely separate from us, can actually be also our Father?  Is He not the most Holy One, and we as sinners, fallen in Adam, most unholy? Is the one true God not wonderful and majestic in every way, and we, as sinners, wretched and miserable in every way, left to ourselves?  Yes, yes, yes! But still this is the astonishing marvel, the amazing mystery of the gospel. God’s people may have and know and enjoy God as their Father!      

And how can this further be explained? Here we come to our second main point and consider the basis of this Christian teaching.  You know the basis of this gospel reality, don’t you?  It is in and through the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving work on the sinner’s behalf. As many as believe in Jesus Christ and Him crucified as only Saviour and Lord are reconciled to God and become adopted children of God for Jesus’ sake. Jesus Christ, the Bible teaches us, is distinctly God’s beloved only begotten Son. This Jesus, in the fullness of time, came to this earth sent of the Father to bear the sins of His elect people. And now through His perfect sacrifice on Golgotha, yes, through Christ’s shed blood as Substitute for sinners, all that separates us and prevents us from a most close and loving relationship with God is taken away. Therefore God’s people, as many as repent of sin and believe in Jesus Christ, may truly have and know and enjoy God as their Father.  Here again Packer speaks insightfully and truthfully when he says in his book, Knowing God, Were I asked to focus the New Testament message in three words, my proposal would be adoption through propitiation, and I do not expect ever to meet a richer or more pregnant summary of the gospel than that. Adoption through propitiation. Propitiation is a Biblical term referring to Jesus’ wrath-removing sacrifice for sin on the sinner’s behalf.  In John 1:12 we are told, “as many as received him [Jesus Christ the Saviour], to them gave he [the LORD] power [or the right or privilege] to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” 

This is the great gospel message and it is what brings the only comfort in life and death, to know that we in and through Christ may have God as our dear Father ever for us and with us.  Of ourselves, with our fall into sin in Adam, we are all of the father, the devil. Jesus teaches this clearly in John 8:44. But when renewed and saved by Christ by His grace and Spirit, through Jesus’ once for all sacrifice even to the death of the cross, we become children of God and with Christ have God the Father as our Father. This is the one and only basis for knowing God as your Father. When Jesus was here on earth, on the cross as sin-bearer, He cried out from the darkness of divine judgment, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” that as many as believe on Him as Saviour might ever relate with God as their gracious loving Father indeed.   Apart from Jesus Christ and union with Him by grace through faith, we never can know God as our dear Father.  We are born in sin and enmity against God, and, left to ourselves, you and I only ever remain under God’s just wrath and judgement for sin.  But God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to serve as Saviour of sinners that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 

Are you today calling to Christ Jesus to be your Saviour from sin? Do you look to Jesus Christ and follow Him as your one and only hope of forgiveness of sin, and being reconciled with God, and coming to know God not as your just and eternal Judge but as your gracious and glorious everlasting Father? Don’t fool yourself in thinking you can have God as your dear Father without trusting and following after Jesus Christ.  God’s people have learned to take most seriously Jesus’ own words spoken even the night before His crucifixion and here I’m thinking of John 14:6. There Jesus declares, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  The Savour through His gospel word calls all to come unto Him to be saved from sin and divine and just judgment.  Also now the gospel call is earnestly proclaimed, urging all to seek the Lord while He may be found and to call upon Him while He is near.  The Lord Jesus is out to seek and to save sinners still.  I pray God not one of you will refuse to hear the gospel call now. For think of it.  What is more important than being saved from sin with the only alternative being perishing forever in your sins? And what can be more blessed than being prepared for heaven instead of heading without hope and with no escape to eternal hell?  What can be more special than having God eternal, God supreme, in and through Christ as your heavenly Father here on earth living in this fallen world, truthfully described in the Heidelberg Catechism as a valley of tears?  When you are a Christian don’t you know something of, and tell something of even, the gracious and glorious riches of having God as your Father?  No doubt as confessing Christians our sin often is not speaking of this as much as we should and might!

Here we come then also to our third main point, namely, the riches of having God as our Father. The Bible teaches us the whole idea of a father comes from God, and there can never be so perfect and wonderful a father as God the Father is to His only begotten Son, Jesus, and as He will be and is for  all His children, as many as trust and follow Jesus as only Saviour and Lord. The astounding gospel truth is that everything God the Father is for His only begotten Son and that He gives to His only begotten Son, that very same becomes ours by grace through faith in Christ. Listen to Jesus’ words here in John 15:9. “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.” Listen also to Jesus’ words in His high priestly prayer in John 17:25-26.  “O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these [my disciples and whoever believes and follows me, Jesus means] have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou lovest me may be in them, and I in them.”  Do you hear it? Jesus tells us here as God almighty and eternal loves and cares for His own Son as Father,  so He loves and cares for all His children, as many as trust and follow after Christ Jesus as only Saviour and Lord.  

And it is truly so rich! For think of God, the very one who made this whole universe and everything in it, and the one who always upholds and guides and governs every detail in this whole world, and along with that all is also truly the most precious Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just stop and consider having HIM as your dear Father for real and forever.  This is the Christian’s portion and comfort, when belonging to Christ in true faith! How rich and comforting this gospel truth is when you think of the many troubles and sorrows, hurts and struggles, and sufferings and tears in this life in our fallen and sin-cursed, devil-infiltrated world.  In Job 14:1 we read, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble.” But think of this now, in this world full of troubles and this valley of tears, yes, what a difference it makes when you may have and know this God as your Father in all the cares and challenges and trials and ups and downs in life. When in Christ you may rely on God as your caring Father so entirely, this makes all the difference, truly! 

You can be sure of it, dear friends, thinking also of your own trials and struggles even of this past week, and coming at you still now perhaps. Having God in Christ as your Father, you may be and should be so encouraged in the faith for it truly means that  no matter the trial, God is always as Father most able to help you, being almighty God, and He is ever willing to help you too, being a most faithful Father. God as our Father will always guide matters ultimately for your and my good, come what may. Isn’t this what prompted Jesus to say in Matthew 7:11, speaking about human fathers trying so to be there for their children, “If ye then, being evil [speaking of us sinful creatures of the dust of ourselves], know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him?”  

God is infinitely better than the best father of children here on earth, and He is always endlessly more able and willing to help us than even the best father in a family here on earth.  God the Father is also the Lord of hosts who has limitless resources at His hands to make use of for His people’s good, even when people mean evil against you.  “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want” we read in Psalm 23:1 and so it truly is for God’s people with the LORD, for Jesus’ sake, as their Father. To have God as your Father means you are so safe and secure and blessed for body and soul in life and death and for time and eternity.    As a song based on Psalm 103 puts it:

As a father loves his children, Feeling pity for their woes,

So, [and way more so even!], the Lord to those who fear Him

Mercy and compassion shows.

  Does this Christian teaching make you confess too with that child of God who wrote:

 Parent, and Husband, Guard and Guide,

Thou art each tender name in one;

On thee we cast our heavy cares,

And comfort seek from Thee alone. 

Our Father, God, to Thee we look;

Our Rock, our Portion, and our Friend;

And on Thy covenant love and truth,

Our sinking souls shall still depend.

Is there any other way to live and die triumphantly, dear friends?

I have said it before, and I hope and trust I will repeat and confess it all my life long by God’s grace, namely, that absolutely nothing can compare to being a Christian, nothing in all the world!  Among other reasons is this, belonging to Christ by grace through faith, I may have the one true infinitely great and wise, strong and loving, caring and everlasting God as my dear Father Who will always hear my cry and never leave me desolate. And actually, no matter when it may seem sometimes not the case, always He will lead everything in my life for my temporal and eternal good. “Behold [said Jesus in Matthew 6:26], the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns: yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Do you see the richness of the Christian faith in this gospel truth of having God as our Father in and through Jesus Christ the Lord? The persecuted Christians in the early church under the apostles’ preaching and teaching could be so comforted and encouraged that they were not forgotten or left on their own, for God in Christ would be their dear heavenly Father who loved and cared for them infinitely much.  And it is still the same today. I ask you: Tell me what a non-Christian has in comparison? Tell me the heathen’s comfort and refuge in life and death….and the godless and worldly? They are left with no ultimate comfort, empty and hopeless despair for this life and the life to come.  Oh, Jesus says therefore to all who will hear, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”  He truly will, for God in Christ is rich unto all that call upon Him.  Even He will be our heavenly Father, so tender and loving to us in every way for soul and body, for this life and through death into eternity! 

We have one last point to mention yet. Having thought about God our Father and the uniqueness of this relationship for us, and the basis of this relationship, and the riches of it, notice yet the delightfulness of this relationship!  What needs to be said here is that God in Christ truly desires His people coming to know and enjoy His Father. God in Christ, by His Word and Spirit, aims for all His people, as many as repent and believe, coming to discover and rejoice in the intimate love relationship of God the Father with His own Son! Yes, God is out to have His people become partakers and participants in that eternal bond of love and joy and peace within the Godhead and to find therein and thereby endless satisfaction and contentment and peace and joy beyond our wildest dreams.  In fact, He promises all His people who live and die in the Lord an eternity of unending, ecstatic, climactic, most joyful interaction and blessing from God our Father, and from Christ our Saviour, and from the Holy Spirit our Comforter.  That will be GLORY, GLORY UNENDING AND ETERNAL, in the new heavens and earth!

Will you be there one day, who knows how soon now?  Are you headed in the way everlasting, or still on the only other way to eternity, the broad way of sin and unbelief and worldliness, that way that leads to destruction?  Oh, to be in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ and to receive from out of His fullness grace for grace…that is salvation, that is life eternal, that is joy and peace true and everlasting!  Speaking to Christians of God our Father, the apostles, by the Holy Spirit, kept proclaiming to them the precious gospel of Jesus Christ which was and remains and forever will be the best news there ever could be. Think of it, always having the almighty God and Father of all creation and the most precious Father of the Lord Jesus Christ also as your dear Father ever loving you and caring for you, now and forevermore! This isn’t fairy tale teaching but gospel preaching, and whoever comes to Christ in spirit and truth discovers this gospel blessing. “And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”  Oh, won’t this blessed gospel draw you too in the Christian gospel way while it is yet the day of grace? Amen.   

Hans Overduin, Radio Pastor

Dear friends, today is a follow-up to last week’s message about the God of the Bible being the Triune God, a key heartbeat Christian doctrine, though ever so unfathomable.  Today the aim is to have us see more some of the practical gems to be gleaned from the doctrine of the Trinity! It has been rightly said by Christians in the past: Try to fully understand the Trinity and you lose your mind, but ignore the Trinity you will lose your soul. In other words, there is so much most essential and wonderful to be gleaned from the gospel fact that the God revealed in the Bible is the Triune God, One God in three distinct Persons. The doctrine of the Trinity is not just something for ivory tower theologians to discuss and debate, but it is real to life, wonderful, most helpful gospel truth for God’s people day by day till journey’s end here on earth, and then in eternity far more so, even perfectly and endlessly! Consider with me the following fives ways the doctrine of the Trinity is such a blessing when believed and lived by.

1. Think of the Christian comfort this doctrine provides us.  To prove this is a key purpose for the revelation of the Trinity, namely, to give us rich comfort in the faith, notice with me what Jesus especially focused on with His disciples before His crucifixion.  On the night before His death, we are told in John chapters 13-17 about Jesus spending quality intimate time yet with His disciples. You may be aware how the Bible tells us the disciples were deeply troubled and confused and concerned with all that was going on in connection with Jesus. Not only did they witness the increasing hostility against Jesus but they heard His words repeatedly mentioning about Him laying down His life. They were very concerned about a devastating break in their relationship with Jesus and what would happen to Him and themselves.

But Jesus then, as told to us in these chapters 13-17 of John’s gospel account, spoke ever so tenderly to them and went out of His way to speak comfortably to them in their time of need and doubt and despair. “Let not your heart be troubled” we hear Him say at the beginning of John 14. And then what does Jesus focus on especially? Let us take note what He does especially to comfort and encourage His disciples in their troubles is teach and show them something of God’s Trinitarian Being and works and ways. What comforting good news He proclaims and promises thereby! What Jesus makes plain is that knowing the one true God as three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, proves Him as the God of all comfort beyond all words can tell! Indeed, and how the doctrine of the Trinity should so enrich and gladden us in our daily life relationship with Him and even with one another. Jesus Himself dwelling on God being Triune the night before His crucifixion shows us in a real way not only the importance of God being Triune God, but also something of its infinite meaningfulness.  

Just take two texts like John 14:16 & 26.  In John 14:16 Jesus says in regards to the disciples’ fear of being abandoned and left alone when He would depart from them, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.”  And then in John 14:26 Jesus declares divine assurance of the gospel promise saying, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” Notice here how Jesus is shown as the asking, caring Saviour for His people, and the Father declared as the giving, caring Father for His people, and the Spirit revealed as the ministering, caring Helper for His people. Isn’t that most precious? Though Jesus in His human nature would be leaving them after His death and resurrection and with His ascension return to heaven, yet the Father, for Jesus’ sake, is ready to give abundantly all the salvation gifts Christ purchased and obtained through His once for all sacrifice on behalf of His people. And those salvation gifts include especially also the Divine Comforter and Helper, the Holy Spirit in us and with us in all our ways.

How comforting also that the Holy Spirit, Whom God the Father and the Son would send, will not only will teach His followers all things Jesus taught and obtained for His people, but will remind us of it all too, and that He will remain with us, each one of His people, forever even! This means God’s people, all who repent of sin and trust and follow Christ, are never left alone, never left as orphans, literally. No, but even in the darkest and most difficult of our times in life here on earth, when joined to Christ by grace through faith, we may know and be assured of the Triune God of salvation ever with us. Yes, and with God always above us and for us and in us, in and through the Three Persons of the Divine Trinity, the one only true God!

The doctrine of the Trinity, as revealed in Christ and His saving work, enriches the Christian’s comfort exponentially in an infinite measure.  From John chapters 13-17, when Jesus even the night before His crucifixion so focuses on the Trinity, should prove and promise to us what comfort is found in and with God Triune as your God and my God.  God’s people may know that in any trouble and crisis we have God the Father that we may turn to always caring for us; God the Son always praying and interceding for us and reaching out to us from glory with His sin-atoning, all-sufficient, nail-pierced hands, ever ready to help us and to save us, to forgive us and to restore us, to strengthen us and equip us; God the Holy Spirit as other divine Comforter and Helper in us and by us ever ministering to us, leading us in God’s gospel way, the way everlasting, the way of eternal life now and forevermore!

Practically speaking, no doubt not even the holiest Christian in this life draws comfort from the blessed Trinity as we might and should, and as God in His Word invites us to do. But may this teaching be of gospel encouragement now to glory in God Triune for you who are Christians.  Whatever your trial and need, your temptation and struggle, bring it to the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as made known especially with Jesus and Him crucified, and what comfort and help you will find! Who will deny we live in such an overall comfortless world? But in the Christian gospel with the Triune God as revealed in Christ Jesus and by Christ Jesus also especially in John chapters 13-17, do you see it with me? What endless and precious and practical daily comfort is found for all who rely on the LORD in true faith and repentance before Him as Triune God of salvation for sinners like us.

To see also the practical aspect of this more too, we need to think of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1 where in praising God as the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our tribulations, what else does Paul say then? Receiving this comfort for ourselves, by God’s grace, he tells us what we are to do. Namely, “that we might be able to comfort them [others around us] which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” In other words, God reveals Himself to His people as triune God of salvation and endless comfort that we in turn also might not only glorify Him, but reach out to others in witness and testimony of this only true God and God of all comfort He truly is as Triune Saviour God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Are you and I, when Christians, pointing others to the Lord and showing the blessedness of trusting and following the Triune God of the Bible? 

Here let us move on now to a second practical gem to be gleaned from the Trinity for not only does it so show us the source and riches of Christian comfort as can nowhere else be found.

2. How this doctrine of the Trinity can be of so much help in the way of showing true love, not only to God but also to our neighbors. The doctrine of the Trinity, when trusted and prized, so impacts our relationships with others most graciously and lovingly. The solemn reality is that in this fallen world with us as depraved sinners by nature, while there is endless talk about love, yet true love and humble respect for others can neither be known nor shown on our own. In God’s common grace and mercy on this fallen world we see unbelievers showing some genuine love still, thank God. But honestly speaking, caring and faithful true love in all our relationships before God and those around us is a gift of God; something from God Triune in our lives. Such love is not natural for us as fallen corrupted sinners on our own as the Bible makes clear and world history proves. So for the measure and character and commitment in true love for one another, we should think much on the love relationship within the Trinity, and the love shown by God Triune in His works and ways.

What can we say about the love of God Triune? Jesus tells us in here that God the Father’s love towards Him is endless, and the love bond within the Trinity eternal, mutual, and everlastingly steadfast. Jesus knew He Himself was so loved by His heavenly Father, and it was in infinite love to His Father as well as for sinners that Jesus gave Himself even to the death of the cross for the salvation of sinners. All the Trinity knew Jesus and Him crucified and risen as Saviour on behalf of sinners is the only way that the infinite love of God Triune may also be shown to us.  In these same chapters, however, Jesus also makes plain how something of this same love from God Triune is to be shown by us not only to God, but to all those around us, especially in our families and church and in the communities where we live.

The definition of true love before God and our neighbor is not to be determined by human standards, but by God’s standards and the Triune God’s own example.  Of course we never are as God Himself. No, but as creatures made in God’s image, we are to reflect in our relationships the love and care He shows to us as revealed in His Triune Being and works and ways. How is that love of God characterized? Is it not gracious and godly love repeatedly, which means also humble and giving love again and again, and steadfast committed love, or you might, say patient endurance in love? Is it not a delighting in love too, and something evident in showing self-sacrificing service love to one another even on a daily basis?

It is almost surprising how often Jesus mentions in these chapters the importance of walking in true love even as God loves us in Christ Jesus. This whole special section of John’s gospel account begins with telling and showing how Jesus loves His people, “he loved them unto the end”, that is, to the full infinite measure that can be. And then notice in that same chapter, in John 13:34-35 the Saviour, about to lay down His life for His sheep even the next day, instructs His disciples saying, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” It is most interesting to refer here also to 1 John for his many references to walking in truth and love when joined to Christ as only Saviour and Lord. Let me just mention 1 John 4:11 where John exhorts, in God’s name, “Beloved, if God so loved us [giving His only begotten beloved Son to save us, even to the death of the cross in the sinner’s place], we ought also to love one another.

So apply this now in regards to your marriage relationship if you are married. Paul instructs in Ephesians 5 that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves His church, and wives are to serve their husbands as the church is devoted to the Saviour.  What tender love and forgiving love, patient love and self-sacrificing love, respect and enduring Christ-like love we are to show one to another as spouses, and also as parents with our children, and as brothers and sisters in the Lord, in the church, and as people in our communities to those around us.  Don’t let your love standards and practices be determined by the world or by your feelings, but by God’s Word, and His revelation of Himself as Triune God even the night before Jesus’ crucifixion.

True Triune God-like Christ-like love always gives and never takes in a demanding and entitlement sort of way before God and our neighbor, including in marriage and family life. Sadly, how much sinful selfishness is sometimes presented as being loving when it is not so at all. Being lustful is our natural way as sinners, but not loving.  Who of us doesn’t have so much to learn from God Triune and His love most fully revealed also in Christ and Him crucified? It is at Golgotha where we see the love bond of the Trinity stretched and strained in humanly incomprehensible measure! And you see now, God’s people joined to Christ by the Spirit’s working are fervently to love others with something of that same Christ-like Triune God-like love, especially as Christians and in our relationships at home and in the church and communities where we live. Hearing all this, does it give you reason even now to repent of sin and all too much impatient and selfish lovelessness still? Oh, to be sorry and to apologize truly is not bad, should that be the case. It would be sad, in fact, if you and I don’t and won’t say sorry, for all too often being yet so unloving or so selfishly loving in a worldly way rather than a Christian way.

 

Most certainly it is the case that nothing can promote true love in our fallen world like a Christian understanding and hearty personal acquaintance and familiarity with God’s love as the Triune God reveals His love in His own Being, and makes known that love to us as most fully shown in Christ and Him crucified.  “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” So Paul exalts in Romans 5:8. In Ephesians 3:19 he speaks too of the “love of Christ, which surpasseth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Yes, and that we might know and enjoy and reflect also something of what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of God Triune’s infinite love in Himself and overflowing to His people in and through Christ Jesus, the God-sent Saviour of sinners. 

Jesus forewarns us that one of the signs of His second coming approaching closer will be an increasing lovelessness in this world even in closest family relations.  “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” So Jesus says in Matthew 24:11. Are we not living in such dark and dreadful times? Only in daily fellowship with God Triune and His love, and practically living out of that bond of eternal love, can and does this lovelessness of the natural man in sin change.  May the LORD by His Spirit and Word now so richly bless the doctrine of the Trinity to us that the love bond within and from the Trinity also shine through in our lives by grace through faith in all our relationships with others at home and all around us. Do you care and pray about this too?  Shouldn’t we, if it is well with our soul? 

3. A third related practical gem in connection with this is to see the importance of faithfulness in all our responsibilities. We can learn about true comfort, and real love, and also steadfast faithfulness considering God as Triune God. Think here of how the Trinity in eternity made a most holy covenant between them that the Father would elect sinners unto salvation, the Son would give His life as Redeemer for their salvation, and the Spirit would be the Minister of salvation in people’s minds and hearts.  From eternity to eternity have not the Three Persons of the Trinity been ever faithful and true in all their promised commitments and responsibilities, regardless of whatever? Not one Person of the Trinity from the eternity before to the present has ever failed in a responsibility given and commitment promised. No wonder the Bible exclaims even in the book of Lamentations 3, “Great is Thy faithfulness”, thinking of our Triune God!  The Triune God’s faithfulness is reflected perfectly in all the inter-Trinitarian relations, and also in all their works and ways altogether as Trinity, and each Person of the Trinity. With the work of creation and providence and redemption God has remained always faithful and true regardless the opposition and resistance and ingratitude that He would encounter from Satan, and this fallen world, and all depraved rebellious mankind. 

Again, shouldn’t the faithfulness of God Triune in all His being and works and ways inspire and motivate us to be faithful even in the smallest details and responsibilities in life? Does the LORD not work this by His Spirit and Word in all His redeemed people in His sanctifying grace? What a poor witness when as confessing Christians we are not faithful in the duties given to us or requested of us, especially also when we have agreed to them.  Let the doctrine of the Trinity and God’s faithfulness through the endless ages convict us of our sins and shortcomings in this regard. Let it spur us on in repentance and renewal in being faithful before God and our neighbor in all that is expected and required of us, in whatever place and calling we have in life.

Doesn’t this relate then also to the daily routine responsibilities in life at home, and school, and in our places of employment, and life in our neighborhoods? An irresponsible and unfaithful Christian even in the most routine and mundane matters of life is a dishonor before God and a poor witness to their neighbors. If you don’t care at all to be faithful, does it not mean really you don’t yet know or belong to God Triune as only Saviour God?  What does Paul write to the Christians in Colossae in Colossians 3:17&23?  “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him…And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men.” 

Listen here yet to Jesus’ own words in John 14:31 showing His steadfast faithfulness even to the death of the cross when He says there, “But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise let us go hence.”  And so Jesus went even to Golgotha to give His life a ransom for many, even to the death of the cross. There are many more practical gems to mention to be gleaned from the Trinity, no doubt.   

4. Think of how the doctrine of the Trinity believed and reflected surely also impacts our worship of God that it be Trinitarian dependent and devoted. True Christian worship and praise is always Trinitarian mindful and glories in God Triune. It is the mark of orthodox Christian worship to God’s glory. In true Christian worship, you, by God’s grace, rejoice in God as your dear heavenly Father and delight in Him as your beloved Saviour, the crucified and risen Redeemer. You honor Him as your Holy Spirit Comforter and Helper and Teacher, who remains with us forever as Jesus promised. Do you and I conscientiously and repeatedly give fervent praise and prayer to God as Triune God in this way, worshipping the Three in One and One in Three?  Isn’t this something to learn and grow more and more in the Christian life?

5. Shouldn’t the doctrine of the Trinity have the practical benefit and fruit in our lives of guiding us in joyful Christian witness? I mean, how great is the God of the Bible and what blessings are found with Him for us by grace through faith in Jesus as only Saviour and Lord. God’s people may be filled with so much hope and expectation already in this life, but then for the life to come even infinitely more so!  Jesus in John chapters 13-17 mentions the peace and the joy and riches that may be yours and mine when belonging to Christ in true faith and having this one only God Triune as our God in and through Jesus, the triumphant Saviour of sinners. The gospel promises from the Triune God is nothing like the false peace and passing joy and futile riches of this sinful world. No, but looking to Jesus, durable riches and everlasting blessings for soul and body from God Triune may be ours and we may be partakers thereof already here in part and in the next life in eternal fullness forevermore. What a future God’s people have, a sure future of never-ending blessings and discoveries beyond our wildest imaginations, all of grace for Jesus’ sake alone, as given by the Father and ministered to us and in us by the Holy Spirit. 

Oh, that all Christians would live and die giving, by God’s grace and Spirit, sincere and steadfast Christian testimony and praise to our Triune God in a way that people can’t help but notice! Think of the practical gems: the great comfort in life; the gracious love in relationships; the faithfulness in responsibilities in life; the focus in holy worship; and the glorious testimony in Christian witness! These five gems you and I may glean from and live out and enjoy and reflect living in faith communion with the Triune God! Indeed, ever gleaning from Him and His Word as ultimately revealed in Christ, the Saviour of sinners, and trusting and following after this one only God Triune, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, whom to know in Christ Jesus is life abundant and life eternal.

If you are someone who doesn’t yet know God Triune as revealed in Christ Jesus and made known in the Holy Bible, the Triune God in all three Persons calls you to seek Him while He may yet be found, and to call upon Him while He is near. He is near even now as you hear His Gospel Word on this blessed subject today, Practical gems from the doctrine of the Trinity. May God Triune so bless this message now to all who hear it. In Jesus’ Name, yes, and to God alone be all the glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.   

Hans Overduin, Radio Pastor   

 

The Christian faith in God, the one blessed Trinity! That is our theme for today’s broadcast. To be truthful with you, I feel both most inadequate to preach on this subject and yet also most enthused to speak on this theme. I mean, when thinking of and considering the theme of God being One God in Three Persons and Three Persons yet One God, it is a matter of unfathomable mystery and infinite depths and heights way beyond our finite comprehension.  Still, inasmuch as you and I can understand it and grow in believing and adoring and serving God as Triune God, how much foundation, and blessing and confidence and joy this doctrine may give us! God being the Triune God is a key doctrine of the Christian faith, never to lose sight of if it is well with our soul. The aim today is that you and I truly appreciate and adore and advance this gospel doctrine of God being Triune.

For sure, any true and growing worship and praise to God in our lives is very related to confessing Him as Triune God.  One God, yes, clearly and definitely only one God, yet in Three Persons, with the Persons being God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. All three persons are equal also in every way, with no person of the three less than another, at any time, in any way.  However,  while maintaining this, we also must say God the Father is always first, and God the Son always second, and God the Holy Spirit always third in the works and ways of God. Each divine Person of the Trinity has their own specific rank and work but all the Trinity is always mutually involved in and with everything God ever does, whether in regards to creation, or redemption, or re-creation.  Again, there is so much mystery and marvel in and with God Triune that we never can get to the bottom of it, but yet enough can be understood to realize and rejoice in God Triune as just so infinitely wonderful and most perfect one only true God indeed!

For true Christians, the teaching of God being the Triune God is essential to the Christian faith and gospel message, something also taught in the three Christian ecumenical creeds, the so-called Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed, and Athanasian Creed. The Athanasian Creed states: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit. Then at the very end of this lengthy detailed creed you have these final lines: This is the catholic faith [meaning universal Christian faith], which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved. 

Yes, dear friends, this is orthodox Christian teaching bringing out how important and crucial this doctrine of the Trinity truly is for us.  The power of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that it is the gospel of salvation from the one Triune God over all! To proclaim this gospel of the Triune God of salvation more concretely, in the remainder of our time let us consider the following three points about the Trinity.

 1. The sure basis of God being Triune God

 2. The supreme beauty of God being Triune God

 3. The special benefits of God being Triune God.

When we speak of the sure basis of God being Triune God, immediately we have to say, the revelation of this truth about God is not of ourselves. No human being could ever have come up with it, not even in our highly advanced technical and computer world of today. The teaching of God being Triune God is of divine origin and no one in all the world could ever have thought up this gospel truth and glorious reality about God being Triune God. This also explains how in every false religion and sect and cult from man’s own making, there is no belief in the Triune God, and in fact, always denial and disbelief of this glorious unfathomable gospel reality. 

The doctrine of the Trinity comes from the Bible alone, God’s holy, inspired, infallible word. That is the sure basis, and it is sure because it is in God’s Word and God’s Word is clear and God’s Word is the absolute truth. There are absolutely no lies about the one true God in the Holy Bible, none whatsoever, but only the astounding gospel truth.  From the Bible, both in the Old Testament and New Testament, we learn emphatically and repeatedly there is only one true God. Christians are monotheists.  We don’t believe in many gods, but only one God.  At the same time we learn though God is ONE essentially, and totally, and unchangeably, sovereignly so, from eternity to eternity, yet He is One God in Three Persons.  Three divine Persons in one Godhead, each co-equal and co-eternal with no inferiority nor inequality between them but Three in one in perfect harmony in their essence altogether and in perfect diversity too in all their wondrous works and ways. 

This Christian conviction about this one only true God is not a development from philosophical reasoning but more a matter of sound reflection from the facts of God’s holy Word in all the Bible. While the Old Testament gives many hints of the truth about God being Triune, it emphasizes more that God is One God, and the New Testament with Jesus the Saviour brings out this one God is clearly and essentially and always and wonderfully Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As one put it: The doctrine of the Trinity was not revealed as a series of [man-made] sentences or propositions, [but] it was God’s work of salvation which finally made it clear.

The sure basis then of the doctrine is simply God’s holy Word in all its 66 books, the Old and New Testament together. Q&A 25 of the 16th century Heidelberg Catechism brings this out faithfully and profoundly when it teaches in regards to the Trinity: Since there is but one only divine essence, why do you speak of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? ANSWER: Because God has so revealed Himself in His Word, that these three distinct persons are the one only true and eternal God.  What a powerful child-like faith answer is here given to us. 

And now to show indeed some of the Biblical basis further for the Trinity let me simply read to you Article 9 of the 1561 Belgic Confession which gives the Scriptural basis for this key Christian doctrine. The article says then in defense of God being one God in three Persons:      

All this we know, as well from the testimonies of holy writ, as from their operations, and chiefly by those we feel in ourselves. The testimonies of the Holy Scriptures, that teach us to believe this Holy Trinity are written in many places of the Old Testament, which are not so necessary to enumerate, as to choose them out with discretion and judgment. In Genesis, chap. 1:26, 27, God says: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, etc. So God created man in his own image, male and female created he them. And Gen. 3:22. Behold the man is become as one of us. From this saying, let us make man in our image, it appears that there are more persons than one in the Godhead; and when he says, God created, he signifies the unity. It is true he does not say how many persons there are, but that, which appears to us somewhat obscure in the Old Testament, is very plain in the New. For when our Lord was baptized in Jordan, the voice of the Father was heard, saying, This is my beloved Son: the Son was seen in the water, and the Holy Ghost appeared in the shape of a dove. This form is also instituted by Christ in the baptism of all believers. Baptize all nations, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. In the Gospel of Luke, the angel Gabriel thus addressed Mary, the mother of our Lord, the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, therefore also that holy thing, which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God: likewise, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you. And there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one. In all which places we are fully taught, that there are three persons in one only divine essence. And although this doctrine far surpasses all human understanding, nevertheless, we now believe it by means of the Word of God, but expect hereafter to enjoy the perfect knowledge and benefit thereof in Heaven. Moreover, we must observe the particular offices and operations of these three persons towards us. The Father is called our Creator, by his power; the Son is our Saviour and Redeemer, by his blood; the Holy Ghost is our Sanctifier, by his dwelling in our hearts. This doctrine of the Holy Trinity, has always been defended and maintained by the true Church, since the time of the apostles, to this very day, against the Jews, Mohammedans, and some false christians and heretics, as Marcion, Manes, Praxeas, Sabellius, Samosatenus, Arius, and such like, who have been justly condemned by the orthodox fathers. Therefore, in this point, we do willingly receive the three creeds, namely, that of the Apostles, of Nice, and of Athanasius: likewise that, which, conformable thereunto, is agreed upon by the ancient fathers.

This article of Christian teaching is part of the Reformation heritage from the faithful, back to the Bible preachers and teachers of the 16th century. Articles 11 and 12 of the Belgic Confession go on to show from Scripture how both Jesus and the Holy Spirit are each definitely true and eternal God together with the Father. The Scriptures ascribe very clearly in different places divine names, and divine characteristics, and divine worship, and divine works  to not only God the Father but to Jesus, God the Son too, and to the Holy Spirit as well.  You can’t carefully and prayerfully read the Bible without learning there is only one true God and that one true God is God Triune, God in Three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And to see now further how important and glorious it is to maintain and hold on to this amazing wonderful truth about the God of the Bible, the only true God that exists, let us go now to our second point, moving from the sure basis of this doctrine to the supreme beauty of this doctrine that God is Triune God. 

Again with this second point about the supreme beauty of the Triune God, the challenge is to limit what is said now. But consider with me how because of the indisputable fact that God is Triune God, we can know for certain the following beautiful gospel truths.

1. How endlessly independent is God truly. Exactly because God is Triune God, one God in Three Persons, we can be most certain of Him never needing anything or anyone outside of Himself.  God can be eternal love and goodness and everlasting wisdom and justice and joy all within His Triune Being.  From eternity to eternity the one only God, revealed to us in the Bible, needs no one or nothing outside of His infinite, delightful, everlasting Triune Being.  How different this is from the gods of man’s own making.  When you deny that God is Triune you, in fact, make a god somehow in some way dependent on others.  For example, a single God of one Person only can’t be loving without an object of love. So that God has to find an object of love, and becomes dependent on people like us to show love and to be loved. But the God of the Bible is not like this.  In His Triune Being there is endless eternal self-sufficiency and it all makes so much sense when we understand and believe what the Bible teaches that God is Triune God, one only God in Three distinct Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

2. Not only does the teaching of the Trinity help us understand how God can be and is endlessly independent, but it helps us understand too how endlessly wonderful God is in Himself and by Himself. The Bible teaches us God is so infinitely kind and good, just and pure, righteous and loving, and happy in all His works and ways. And just remembering how the Godhead in the Three Persons thereof enjoy this everlasting intimate divine life together in perfect unity and harmony, in the midst of immeasurable perfect diversity too, helps make it so much clearer what a great and glorious God is the LORD our God, the Triune God of the Bible.  The God fully revealed to us in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners. Who can tell and describe the eternal bond of infinite love and trust and joy within the Godhead between the three distinct Persons of the Trinity?

Honestly, because God is Triune as the Bible teaches us, you and I have every reason to believe in the one only true God, in His eternal existence and everlasting goodness and glory.  Any god who is less than Triune is by virtue of that fact not a wonderful god nor a self-sufficient or believable god really. It is always most unreasonable and foolhardy to believe in the idol gods of man’s making while forever most reasonable to believe in the one Triune God of the Bible.  Dear friends, don’t let the doctrine of the Trinity be for you just a meaningless mystery but rather a meaningful marvel, for truly it is most marvelous, proving God to be, indeed, eternally independent God and eternally wonderful God. 

3. Surely, thinking of God Triune, don’t we have to say also, He is superbly exceptional?  Again here it is important to state the Christian God is not like any god of this world.  The Triune God of the Bible is unique and incomparable to all else and even the many attempts to illustrate the Trinity from things in this world and our lives just utterly fail fully to describe Him! When people then compare the God of the Bible to the idol gods of man’s own wicked devising, how sad and wrong they are in insisting all religions really worship the same god. Recently when in a place in Canada a church building was bought by a Muslim group to change it into a mosque, a so called Christian minister then stated: I am delighted it will remain as a place of worship. I believe we only have one God.....some see it as the Prophet Mohammed and others as Jesus, thereby implying that is all fine and well.

But this is in total contradiction and denial of the one true God of the Holy Bible. What an offense and blasphemous evil to compare the Christian God to the monotheist unfeeling idol god of the Jews or the Muslims, or to the polytheist gods of Buddhism and Hinduism, or to the false monotheist god of the Mormons and the Jehovah Witnesses. Our God, the Christian’s Triune God, is the God forever infinitely incomparable and incomprehensible, and that makes Him not less desirable but more desirable, not less believable but more believable.  What? Will you serve a god little different than yourself, or rather believe in the one true God, God Triune, so superbly exceptional and exceptionally superb, uniquely so, that always He is greater than you or I can ever imagine Him to be? How utterly foolish and wicked to turn from Him, the one only Triune God, to the false and lifeless, useless, senseless idol gods of man’s own making. 

How important in this regard to take care to have and to maintain the belief and understanding of God being Triune God and seeing something of the sure basis for this gospel truth, and the supreme beauty thereof.  How many and various, and subtle and sly, are the relentless attacks against the doctrine of God being Triune God.  The early church wrestled through this key doctrine for us against many heresies, and we have their prayerful, carefully constructed, Biblically balanced confessional statements about the Trinity in the ecumenical and 16th &17th century Reformation Creeds which we do well to treasure much and not to waver from. New books about the Trinity that are faithful and edifying are only those which are wholly in submission to Scripture and the faithful Reformed confessions. It is so easy to err in one way or another about the precise, marvelous, unfathomable doctrine of the Triune God. But may God keep you and me faithful in truly believing and loving and defending the precious doctrine of God being Triune God as taught to us in the Holy Bible.

Yes, not only because of its sure basis and supreme beauty, but notice yet this.

4. Its special benefits or splendid blessings. And again, I can only be so very brief now. But because God is Triune God, therefore everything in the Bible can make so much more sense, and being cared for by the God of the Bible becomes so much more awesome. I’m created by the one true God who is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, all in one Godhead but three distinct Persons. I’m cared for by this same Triune God in the daily providences of life day and night. And most wonderful of all, when by grace through faith I am a Christian, I have God Triune as my precious Father, and my blessed Saviour, and my wonderful Comforter altogether, and also in and with and each Person in a special way.

The gospel tidings of God seeking and saving sinners, sending His only begotten Son for this otherwise hopeless mission, is so great! And the gospel of Jesus, God’s beloved Son from eternity, so willingly coming here and going to the cross of Calvary and giving His life a ransom for many is so wonderful! And then too the gospel of God the Holy Spirit being sent forth both from the Father and the Son to minister in divine might and grace this rich gospel of salvation in the minds and hearts of His people, for whoever repents and believes, is just so powerful and most awesome, and incredible!  It shows us something of the infinite wisdom and love, goodness and justice, holiness and grace, and power of the one only true God as could otherwise never be known or shown to us!

The Triune God of salvation is the God who is out to save sinners and have them, each of His redeemed ones, to know and participate in the divine wonder and joy and glory of the Triune God Himself! The salvation of totally depraved sinners becomes so much more grand and sure and gracious and glorious when thinking of it involving the electing, drawing love of God the Father towards us, and of the saving, redeeming love of God the Son for us, and of the almighty patient loving ministry of God the Holy Spirit in us. It is amazing and astounding Who the God of salvation is for us as Triune God and what He has done and does do and yet will do for us as Triune God of Salvation, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Thinking too of the pursuit of perfect unity and perfect diversity in our fallen world, where can it be really and wonderfully discovered and embraced and reflected but from our Triune God of creation and redemption and re-creation? This fallen blind world is awash in terrible imbalance and chaos on every front because of not knowing and rejecting the one only God, the Triune God of the Bible. Oh, that the Christian church would proclaim and prize once again the God of the Bible in His triune being and grace and glory!  Isn’t this something to pray and care about also in our perilous times? Don’t let the doctrine of the Trinity become a matter of outdated formulas but rather living, loving, throbbing, Christian gospel for you and me! For that is what it truly is and why God reveals Himself so to us in His Word.  Here just think of the God-inspired exhortation we find in vs.20-21 in the book of Jude encouraging all true Christians in distinction from all unbelievers and heathen: “But ye beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”  You see all three Persons of the Trinity mentioned there as essential and necessary in becoming and remaining true Christians focused on God and His love! 

Are you, by God’s grace, so living in spirit and truth, believing in and relying upon the one true God, God Triune? In Jesus’ name I call and invite all of you truly to know and believe in the one only true God and that He is the Triune God.  If you won’t believe this teaching, it means disowning Scripture, and denying God, and remaining unsaved.  May the glory of the faithful Christian doctrine of the Trinity so attract you and me and bless us and strengthen us in the Christian faith and testimony while we live our brief earthly journey now.

In this regard I can’t help but mention yet the beautiful closing lines of 20th century Reformed theologian, Herman Bavinck, when after writing almost 80 full pages on God as Triune God he concluded with saying the following: The doctrine of the Trinity is of incalculable importance for the Christian religion…It is the core of the Christian faith, the root of all its dogmas, the basic content of the new covenant. ….In the doctrine of the Trinity we feel the heartbeat of God’s entire revelation for the redemption of humanity. Though foreshadowed in the Old Testament, it only comes to light fully in Christ.  [When we are Christians by God’s grace], we know ourselves to be children of the Father, redeemed by the Son, and in communion with both through the Holy Spirit. Every blessing, both spiritual and material, comes to us from the triune God. In that name we are baptized; that name sums up our confession; that name is the source of all the blessings that come down to us; to that name [of God Triune], we will forever bring thanksgiving and honor; in that name we find rest for our souls and peace for our conscience. Christians have a God above them, before them, and within them. Our salvation, both in this life and in the life to come, is bound up with the doctrine of the Trinity…..

Are you in agreement with such glowing Christian testimony concerning the one only God, the blessed Trinity? Even so, I close now then with the words of the poet who wrote in praise to God Triune:

To the great One in Three

Eternal praises be

Hence evermore.

His sovereign majesty

May we in glory see,

And to eternity—

Love and adore!

In Jesus Name, yes, now and forevermore Amen!

Hans Overduin, Radio Pastor

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