“Our Coming Savior”
Christmas at the Preston Arts Center, 2019
Rev. Todd A. Linn, PhD
Henderson’s First Baptist Church, Henderson
O come, let us adore Him; Christ the Lord! Christmas is all about Christ. And advent is about anticipating His arrival.
We’ve been celebrating Advent all month. Most of you know that the word “advent” means “arrival” or “coming” and so the very first Christmas, the first noel, was about the arrival or coming of the Messiah. God comes down to us, the second Person of the Trinity, the eternal Son of God, comes down to us and adds human skin to Himself, born as Baby Jesus.
We just sang the words, “Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning” and yet the hymn writer makes clear that the Lord who was born that happy morning is already in existence as the eternal God. So the verse goes on to say: “Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.” Incarnation.
But why did He appear? Why did He come? He did not come merely to preach a message of love, or do a bunch of healings and miracles.
He came for a different reason, a far more important reason, a reason given in every single book of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
Why did He come? Just a few verses. Referring to Himself as the “Son of Man,” Jesus says in Matthew 20:
“…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom (or in exchange for the life) for many.” (Matthew 20:28) to Zacchaeus…
“…the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
“…I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not remain in darkness.” (John 12:46) The Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15…
“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…”
And that verse most succinctly captures the reason Christ came, why He arrived, why Advent: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
What does it mean to be a sinner? Who is a sinner? A sinner is someone who doesn’t do the right thing. A sinner is a someone who breaks God’s laws, a lawbreaker. A sinner is someone who knows what he ought to do, but doesn’t do it.
By show of hands, how many of you believe you’ve failed to do the right thing, even just once? Some of you aren’t raising your hands! Liars and cheats!
We’re all sinners, aren’t we? Romans 3:23 says: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” All. Every single person on the planet is a sinner. We have all failed to do consistently and perfectly what the Bible teaches.
And that’s important because if we ever expect to have a relationship with the One True and Living God, then we have to be consistently sinless and perfect all the time. God is perfect. He is perfectly holy and perfectly loving and perfectly just. But we are imperfect. We are unholy. We often act very unjustly. We are sinners.
The Bible teaches that the wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23, “the wages of sin is death.” Put another way, “What we get for being sinners is death,” spiritual death. We’re born that way. Ephesians 2:1 says we are “dead in trespasses and sins.”
We are born natural sinners. It’s not that we first sin and then become sinners; we sin because we are sinners. And if nothing changes, we remain that way for eternity, separated from God forever in a horrible place called hell, separated because of our sin, unable to stand in God’s presence because He is perfect and we are not.
This is what we often call the “bad news” we must first apprehend before we can appreciate the “good news.” Bad news puts the good news in perspective. Perspective makes all the difference.
Maybe you heard about the young man at Christmastime who was writing home to his parents. It was his first semester away at college. It had not been a good first semester—a lot like my first semester in college. So he is writing to them just before the Christmas break. It just so happens I have a copy of the letter!
Dear Mom and Dad,
I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch with you, but a number of things have happened and I wanted to let you know about them. First, my apartment burned to the ground and in seeking to rescue a few things from it, I broke my leg and ended up in the hospital. While I was in the hospital, I met a wonderful girl. She and I were married last Saturday. My friends assure me that it doesn’t matter that she happens to be 20 years older than I—and she does not speak the English language. [paragraph break, start of new paragraph].
Mom and dad, everything you have just read is not true, so don’t worry. However, what is true is that I have failed my final exams badly. And since I wanted you to get this news in some kind of perspective, I have written the letter as is. Your loving son.
Well, I don’t know what ever became of that fella, but he knew that a little perspective often makes all the difference!
The gospel, put in perspective, is appreciated only in light of the bad news. It is only when placed against the dark backdrop of sin, that the good news shines brightly and is understood fully.
Put another way: we cannot fully appreciate what it means to be forgiven until we know that we need of forgiveness. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
And in order for God to remain just in all His ways, He has to punish our wrongdoing. He can’t just forgive our evil acts without punishing us. That would be like an earthly judge just letting everybody get away with every crime. If you’ve ever been a victim of a crime and a judge did that, you’d say, “That’s unjust!” And rightly so because the acts of lawbreakers should be punished. Well we’ve offended God, we’ve broken His laws, and our sins must be punished.
Here’s what makes Christianity so different from every other major religion. Every other religion is about earning God’s approval. Do these things and God will accept you. Do this. Do that, and you’ll earn a way to God. It’s like climbing a ladder of deeds, do this, then this, and this, and you’ll finally reach God. But it would require an infinite number of rungs or steps to appease an infinite God!
Christianity is not do. Christianity is done. In other words, Christianity is not about our climbing up a ladder of good deeds to get up to God. Christianity is about God’s coming down to us. The eternal Son of God, second Person of the Trinity, comes down to us: Word of the Father now in flesh appearing. God takes on human skin and dwells among us for 33 years. He lives a perfect life for us. We can’t, but He can. He does. He did. He lived without breaking a single law. He can do that because He’s God! So He is also able to die as a perfect substitute for our sin, taking our punishment upon Himself. So God is just, justice is served in His punishing sin by punishing our sin in His Son Jesus.
And after He dies, on the third day, Jesus rises from the grave, demonstrating His power over sin, death, hell, and the grave. He is alive. And if we believe He is rightful King of our lives, and “adore Him” O come let us adore Him, “Christ, the Lord,” we can be saved from the penalty of our sin and have eternal life in Him.
That’s why He came. That’s why Advent. Arrival. Coming.
I want to show you a prayer. It’s a prayer I often use in my preaching. It’s a prayer also found in our 21-Day Devotional called “First Steps.” Look at this prayer. Let me read it while you look at it.
“Lord Jesus Christ, I admit that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever before believed, but, through you, I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. I thank you for paying my debt, bearing my punishment and offering forgiveness. I turn from my sin and receive you as Savior.”
Maybe you’d like to pray that prayer. In your spirit. Would you bow your heads? With your heads bowed and eyes closed, I’m just going to read it again, and invite you to personalize it in your heart—if you believe. There is something wonderful about admitting our sin to Jesus and thanking Him for what He did for us. Let’s pray:
“Lord Jesus Christ, I admit that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever before believed, but, through you, I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. I thank you for paying my debt, bearing my punishment and offering forgiveness. I turn from my sin and receive you as Savior. Amen.”
That’s why He came. That’s why Advent—the first Advent. There’s a second Advent, you know. Second arrival. Second coming. It will be very different from His first coming. Here’s how:
The first Advent takes place in the past;
The second Advent takes place in the future
The first Advent is a matter of history;
The second Advent is a matter of prophecy
In His first Advent, Jesus comes as a priest to atone for sin;
In His second Advent, Jesus comes as a king to abolish sin
In His first Advent, Christ comes to bring peace to the human heart;
In His second Advent, Christ comes to bring peace to the entire world
The second Advent is what we look forward to! It is yet to be fulfilled. And so many of our Christmas hymns can be used also with the second Advent in mind. We’ll sing in a moment, “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.” And we’ll sing: “Born to reign in us forever, now thy gracious kingdom bring.” We anticipate His second Advent, His arrival as rightful King of His Kingdom.
Before we sing, I want you to know that I will be available to you in the fellowship area after our service. I’d love to give you one of these “First Steps” devotionals I mentioned earlier. Alternatively, if you have spiritual questions, you’d like to know more about Jesus, or more about the church, indicate that on your Response Card and be sure to give it to one of our ushers at the doors today on your way out.
I love you church! Let’s stand and respond in song by singing, “Come Though Long Expected Jesus.”
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