From the Pastor’s Study – December 22nd, 2017

Sunday worship

For the Advent season I’m preaching a series of three sermons on the birth of Christ as the work of the Triune God: the baby Jesus is the gift of God the Father, the incarnation of God the Son, and he was conceived by God the Spirit.

As the Father’s gift to the world (John 3:16), the birth of Jesus makes know to us the unfathomable depths of God’s love. Any true gift is an expression of love, given freely out of a desire to bless another. The greater the gift, the greater the love. The Father could not have given us a more precious and valuable gift than his own beloved Son. Therefore he could not have loved us any more than he has. “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

As the incarnation of the Son, Jesus was born a perfect Savior. Being born of a woman (Galatians 4:4), he could represent us in his life and death as a true man. Being the Word made flesh (John 1:14) and thus true God, he has offered to God a sacrifice of such value as could atone for all the sins of the world. Nothing less than the incarnate Son of God could save us, and that’s exactly what Jesus was (and is) – even as a helpless infant cradled in his mother’s arms.

As the one and only human being ever conceived by the Holy Spirit, Jesus was born without sin. He is utterly unique in that way. Starting with Cain, Adam and Eve’s first child, every single human being ever conceived was conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity (Psalm 51:5). We have all inherited a sinful nature from our first parents. But Jesus, though born of a woman, was conceived by the power of God and so was without sin from the moment of conception. The Holy Spirit gave us a holy Savior. And by faith in him, his sinlessness becomes our righteousness. He was born by the power of the Spirit that we might be re-born by the same Spirit, and become true children of God by the Spirit of adoption (Romans 8:15).

So Christmas is not just about the Son – it’s also about the Father and the Spirit. All three persons of our glorious and almighty God worked in concert for our redemption. That’s something to celebrate! Have a Merry Christmas!

R. C. Sproul

Last week author and teacher R. C. Sproul finished his earthly pilgrimage and entered into his eternal rest. I only met him one time, and that was only to shake his hand after he gave a talk in Kalispell, Montana, in 1999. But, like so many other Christians – especially Reformed Christians – Sproul’s teaching influenced my growth as a believer. His book Chosen By God helped convince me of the truth of the doctrines of grace (that is, God’s sovereignty in our salvation – election, the sovereign work of the Spirit, etc.). And I still remember reading The Holiness of God and feeling awed as Sproul described God’s fearful majesty.

But Sproul’s greatest gift was ability to teach and preach the truths of Scripture. He was the most effective communicator of biblical doctrine I’d ever heard. His death is a gain for heaven, but a great loss for the conservative evangelical and Reformed church.

Soli Deo Gloria!