“LIVING AND SHARING THE GOSPEL”
December 3, 2017
“Good Christian Men Rejoice”
“It Came Upon A Midnight Clear”
“Angels We Have Heard On High”
Prayers of Intercession
SERMON – Michael Reeves
After Darkness, Light
“Go Tell It On The Mountain”
Worship God in Spirit and Truth
Grow in His Grace and Knowledge
Share the Love and Hope we have in Him
The first Sunday of Advent (December 3 this year), begins a new cycle of worship in the Christian liturgical calendar. Together with Christmas, Advent proclaims a key point of Christian doctrine—the virgin birth of Jesus.
The Apostles’ Creed
In accord with Matt. 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-2:20, The Apostles’ Creed affirms that Jesus “was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.” Though not written by the original apostles, the Creed was widely embraced as an accurate summation of the first apostles’ core teachings. The basic content of The Apostles’ Creed appeared as early as A.D. 215 in a document used by Hippolytus in preparing candidates for baptism. Restatements of this basic teaching then appeared over the next several centuries in multiple places, including a commentary on The Apostles’ Creed, written by Tyrannius Rufinus in about A.D. 400. The version of the Creed he examined is quite similar to The Apostles’ Creed that is used today by many churches (GCI included).
“Birth of Christ,” by anonymous(public domain via Wikimedia Commons)
Though early versions of the Creed contained the same central doctrinal ideas (called the “rule of faith”), they varied somewhat, due largely to the need to defend against different heresies. Some of those early versions were quite long—here is the first part of one written by Tertullian:
Now, with regard to this rule of faith—that we may from this point acknowledge what it is which we defend—it is, you must know, that which prescribes the belief that there is only one God, and that he is none other than the Creator of the world, who produced all things out of nothing through his own Word, first of all sent forth; that this Word is called his Son, and, under the name of God, was seen “in diverse manners” by the patriarchs, heard at all times in the prophets, at last brought down by the Spirit and power of the Father into the Virgin Mary, was made flesh in her womb, and, being born of her, went forth as Jesus Christ.
Now, compare what Tertullian wrote with the opening lines of The Apostles’ Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth; I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
Though The Apostles’ Creed is more succinct (which I appreciate!), both statements establish three key points of Christian teaching concerning Jesus: 1) that the eternal Son of God began his earthly life as a special act of God the Father, 2) that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and 3) that Jesus was genuinely the son of a human mother (Mary) who, at the time Jesus was born, was a virgin.
The doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus
There are, of course, those who deny the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus (and thus reject The Apostles’ Creed along with the Nicene Creed).
Then there are others who misconstrue that doctrine, claiming that Mary somehow is co-redeemer with Jesus in our salvation. However, as the Gospel of John declares, our salvation (which involves being “born of God”) is not a matter of “natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will” (John 1:12-13). T.F. Torrance comments:
The virgin birth… excludes the idea that God and man are co-equal partners [in salvation]…. What took place [in the virgin birth of Jesus] is an act under the sovereign will of God, in which God alone was Lord and Master, so that the birth was grounded in the sovereign will of God alone. (Incarnation, the Person and Life of Christ, p. 99)
Through Jesus’ virgin birth, God, by his own sovereign decision, joined himself with our humanity. Mary is thus not co-redeemer, though as T.F. also points out, she is an admirable model of obedient faith in response to the grace of God:
Grace takes a form in the birth of Jesus which we may take as a pattern or norm for all our understanding of grace. Here God takes the initiative and approaches Mary through the word of his angelic messenger—the word proclaimed to Mary is the word of election or grace: she is chosen and told of God’s choice. She has nothing to do in this matter except what is done in her under the operation of the Spirit. What Mary does is simply to receive the word, to believe, which she does not in her own strength but in the strength given her by the Lord, and she is blessed because of that, not because of her virginity…. The Word which Mary heard and received and obeyed became flesh of her flesh. That is the normative pattern for the believer in his or her attitude toward the Word announced in the gospel, which tells men and women of the divine act of grace and decision taken already on their behalf in Christ. (Incarnation, the Person and Life of Christ, p. 101)
Celebrating God’s work on our behalf
As the apostle Paul states in Ephesians 2:8, we are saved by God’s grace, not by our works. It is the gracious work of the Triune God on our behalf that saves us. Our works (and the works of any other person, Mary included) do not bring about that salvation. Instead, by faith (also God’s gift), we are born of God, receiving, through the Spirit, the salvation that has been accomplished for us in Jesus Christ. Note this comment from T.F.:
What happened once and for all, in utter uniqueness in Jesus Christ, happens in every instance of rebirth into Christ. Just as he was born from above of the Holy Spirit, so are we born from above of the Holy Spirit through sharing in his birth. (Incarnation, the Person and Life of Christ, p. 102)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer offers a similar perspective on the miracle of the Incarnation that we celebrate during the Advent-Christmas season:
Only the humble believe him and rejoice that God is so free and so marvelous that he does wonders where people despair, that he takes what is little and lowly and makes it marvelous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly…. God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings. God marches right in. He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would least expect them. God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken. (God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas, p. 22)
To T.F.’s and Bonhoeffer’s words, I add my hearty, Amen.
Wishing you and yours a blessed Advent-Christmas season,
The birth of Jesus Christ is the one of the most significant events in all of history and when we understand the truths regarding the true date of his birth it will thrill and inspire your heart. Tradition has made December 25th the birthday of Jesus. but the Bible clearly reveals he was not born on that day. It was not until the 4th century after Christ that December 25th began to be celebrated as the day of Christ’s birth. It was the old pagan holiday celebrating the winter solstice and the birth of the sun god and celebrated when the days began to get longer. In Rome it was the festival called Saturnalia. All biblical scholars know that Jesus was not born on December 25th. Tradition is never an accurate measurement for truth. God has a significant meaning in everything He does including the birth of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. This prophecy of the birth of Christ became the polestar of the Old Testament. There were countless plots of the devil to destroy the line of Christ, and God’s miraculous protection of it. The salvation and redemption of the human race depended on the preservation of the Christ line. His birth had been prophesied for about 4000 years. How glorious it must have been when the angel of the Lord announced his birth to the shepherds in the fields: Luke 2:11-14
Jesus Was Born on the Day of Trumpets In 3 B.C. the sun and the moon in Virgo occurred on only one day and that was September 11. The configuration of the sun and the moon was visible in Palestine between sunset and moonset, this twilight period being called “night” in the Bible. Christ was born on September 11, 3 B.C sometime in that eighty-one minute span of time between 6:18pm and 7:39pm. Amazingly this corresponds to Tishri 1 on the Jewish Calendar which is the First day of the festival of the Feast of Trumpets. (There was also another sign in the heavens at that time when Jupiter, Venus and the King Star Regalus aligned to create the Star of Bethlehem. The New Testament shows Jesus born on the Day of Trumpets, the reason there was no room in the Inn. An impressive amount of symbolic features emerge on the biblical and prophetic scenes. Before the period of the Exodus in the time of Moses, this was the day that began the biblical year. Notice that the patriarch Noah became 600 years of age “in the first month Tishri the first day of the month [later to be called the Day of Trumpets]” (Genesis 8:13). That was the very day when “Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry” (v. 13). This was not only Noah’s official birthday, it became a new birth after the Flood for the earth as well.
As shown from the Bible, the blowing of trumpets was the sign that kings could then begin to rule (1 Kings 1:34; 2 Kings 9:13; 11:11). Jewish authorities long acknowledged this royal import to the Day of Trumpets.
Jesus as the King of Kings
The central theme of the Day of Trumpets is clearly that of enthronement of the great King of kings. This was the general understanding of the day in early Judaism and it is certainly that of the New Testament. In Revelation 11:15, recall that the seventh angel sounds his “last trump” and the kingdoms of this world become those of Jesus.
If the Jewish people would realize that the New Testament in the Book of Revelation (chapter 12:1–5) also places the birth of Jesus on the very same Day of Trumpets, they might begin to understand just how important Jesus is in a Jewish sense as well as to the world. The New Testament states that he is the Messiah. He shares many similarities with the births of Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, Joseph and Samuel. People should begin to realize the significant coincidences of the birthdays of these prominent men as understood by the Jewish people. And standing out above them all, is the teaching of the apostle John that Rosh Ha-Shanah is also the birthday of Jesus.
Information taken from Dec 22, 2011 : Goodness of God Ministries
†† Pastor’s Corner ††
Pastor David Perry and Jonnie Perry
Today is the official beginning of Advent…the first Sunday of Advent. The traditional theme of the first Sunday of Advent is HOPE. The focus of this day is on the Assurance of the Blessed Hope that because of Jesus’ 1st Coming, his 2nd Coming will indeed happen. What a glorious concept!
Jesus’ 2nd Coming will enthrone Him as the King of this earth, truly letting everyone know that they are INCLUDED in His Life & Love. All will be given a chance to either accept His free gift of His Life & Love, or refuse it. This Christmas season, let’s rejoice in our INCLUSION in God’s glorious plan of making known the “Indescribable Free Gift of Salvation” for everyone.
That is EXACTLY what the Christmas season is all about – a reminder of God’s coming to this earth to provide the free gift of salvation for every human who has ever lived, is living and will live on this earth until the return of Jesus as King. He offers them His life and love in hopes that they will accept it and become reality in their lives. He brings His LIGHT of Hope into their darkness.
Jesus wants us to allow “His Light of Hope” to shine out through us to others. Jesus, through His birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension, has literally transformed the lives of every man, woman, and child for the rest of human history– whether they realize it or not. THAT is why we celebrate Christmas.
There is only ONE REASON that we celebrate Christmas and that is to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! It is right and good that we take time each year to remember that blessed event. It was foretold by the prophets of old. It is a well-documented, historical event chronicled in the Gospels and supported by the historians of that day. The Incarnation is easily the GREATEST EVENT IN HUMAN HISTORY! His life would literally transform the lives of every man, woman, and child for the rest of human history!!! THAT is why we celebrate the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Go Tell It On The Mountain & Everywhere –
That Jesus loves Everyone!
You are loved & deeply appreciated ~ ~ Pastor David ~
Prayers for our Country and Pres. Trump
Prayers for the Body of Christ World Wide
Our Persecuted Christian Brothers & Sisters Around The World
Local Prayer Requests
JW Holmes-(friend of Vicki Auxier) has leukemia Dr’s say two years to live.
Mary Coffey, prayers for healing, strength & encouragement.
Jerry Hudson, PRAISE new med. is helping him. Pray for complete healing
Anita – (niece of Barb Hudson) – very serious illness needs treatment & healing
Other Prayer Requests
David Sheridan GCI-Canada Pastor (a friend of Pastor David) He suffered a massive heart attack on November 24. He was clinically dead for nine minutes, but was revived before being rushed to the hospital where it was determined that David’s aorta was 100% blocked. A catherization was performed and may now need a triple, or even quadruple, bypass operation.
Cecil Pulley GCI-Bermuda Pastor (a friend of Pastor David). He recently suffered a mild heart attack and was hospitalized and then released. He will be undergoing further diagnostic tests in Boston.
Kathy Ennis – Healing from foot surgery
Patricia Robinson (GCIndy) Recovery from breast cancer surgery
Peggy Perry – (Pastor David’s Sister) She had her 4th chemo treatment Friday…and so far is doing very well. She thanks all for their prayers.
Richard Cravens (friend of Jim & Donna Dunbar) Very ill with cancer
Joseph & Georgette Franklin, Our Haiti Church & School– Prayers for safety & blessing & provision.
Joe & Tammy Tkach – Protection, safety, wisdom & encouragement
Our Persecuted Christian Brothers and Sisters Around The World
For Divine Appointments To Touch Others With Jesus’ Life & Love