Friday, December 31, 2010

Who Are the Sons of God? (Part 1) - Genesis 6:1-4


The chief difficulty of interpreting Genesis 6:1-4 lies in the phrase, the sons of God. Who are the sons of God? Are they descendants of Seth? Are they kings? Are they angels?
Now it came about when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:1-4)
To get a better grasp of who the sons of God are, it's important to explore the surrounding context of the passage. Doing so will also make the purpose of this passage clearer, which is just as important, or perhaps even more important than determining the identity of the sons of God.

The first two chapters of Genesis describe the creation of the world. Out of all the created order, man is singled out as unique. Man is not like the common animal; rather, man was made in the image of God. On the sixth day of history God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:31) In the beginning, the man, Adam, and the woman, Eve, lived in perfection in the Garden in Eden.

While man was still in the garden, Lucifer, an angel, rebelled against God in heaven. But he was not content to keep his rebellion in heaven, so he came down to the earth. The third chapter of Genesis describes the destruction that this fallen angel caused. Possessing a snake, Satan tempted Eve; she gave into his temptation and ate from the tree. Man fell and was cast out of the garden. It is evident that from the beginning, at least one fallen angel was intimately involved in human affairs. Of course, Satan wasn't the only fallen angel. There were others— and as man's wickedness in the pre-flood world increased, demonic activity must have also increased.

Next >>

Related Posts:
Who Are the Sons of God? (Part 2) - Genesis 6:1-4
The Fall: Satan is Cursed - The Christian Worldview
Summary of Genesis 5
Creation of Man - The Christian Worldview
The Messiah the Jews Expected and the Messiah that Came - The Christian Worldview

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Messiah the Jews Expected and the Messiah that Came - The Christian Worldview

For the worshipers of the one true God, the coming of the Messiah was most certainly an expected and anticipated event. It must have been shocking to those living in the first century that the prophecies concerning the Messiah were actually being fulfilled in their lifetimes— but even more shocking must have been the realization that the Messiah had not come to rule.

The greatest evidence that the Jews were anticipating a Messiah different from the one that came is the constant opposition that Jesus faced throughout His ministry. This opposition most consistently came from the leading religious authorities, who were seeking to seize and kill Him. In Scripture, Nicodemus appears to be the only religious authority who acknowledged Jesus to be greater than a criminal and blasphemer (Nicodemus brought spices to Jesus after the crucifixion, John 19:39).

Not only was Jesus rejected by the leading religious authorities, He was also rejected by the common-folk. After Jesus had finished teaching that He was the bread of life, most left Him saying, "This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?" (John 6:60). Many people saw Jesus' great miracles, but most were unwilling to accept His teachings. The rejection of Jesus by the common-folk is seen even more clearly at Jesus' trial when the crowds shouted, "Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!" (John 19:15)

Clearly, Jesus was not the Messiah the Jews had expected; He didn't fully match the description that the Jews wanted Him to have. Alfred Edersheim writes in The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (emphasis added):
In the absence of felt need of deliverance from sin, we can understand, how Rabbinic tradition found no place for the Priestly office of the Messiah, and how even His claims to be the Prophet of His people are almost entirely overshadowed by His appearance as their King and Deliverer. This, indeed, was the ever-present want, pressing the more heavily as Israel's national sufferings seemed almost inexplicable, while they contrasted so sharply with the glory expected by the Rabbis. (Book 2, Chapter 5)
At Palm Sunday, when Jesus rode in on a donkey, the crowds were ready for Him to start the revolution. The people shouted, "Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, even the King of Israel." (John 12:13). But when Jesus didn't bring in the kingdom, the people were disappointed because, for the most part, they were so intent on gaining deliverance from a secular government that they failed to realize their own need for spiritual deliverance— for Jesus, at His first coming, did not come to rule, but to die.

Related Posts:
Christianity, Islam, and the Virgin Birth - The Christian Worldview
Was the Virgin Birth Necessary? Why was the Virgin Birth So Important? (Part 1)
Jesus' Purpose: To Save His People From Their Sins (Part 1) - Matthew 1:21
Isaiah's Prophecy: It's Fulfillment (Part 1) - Matthew 1:22-23

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Quote of the Day #58 - A. W. Tozer

A quote from from The Pursuit of God, by A. W. Tozer:
The moment the Spirit has quickened us to life in regeneration our whole being senses its kinship to God and leaps up in joyous recognition. That is the heavenly birth without which we cannot see the Kingdom of God. It is, however, not an end but an inception, for now begins the glorious pursuit, the heart's happy exploration of the infinite riches of the Godhead. That is where we begin, I say, but where we stop no man has yet discovered, for there is in the awful and mysterious depths of the Triune God neither limit nor end.
~A. W. Tozer (The Pursuit of God, Chapter: Following Hard after God)

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Quote of the Day #55 - John Owen
Quote of the Day #56 - Alfred Edersheim
Quote of the Day #57 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote Index

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christianity, Islam, and the Virgin Birth - The Christian Worldview

Christians aren't the only people who believe Mary conceived Jesus when she was a virgin, Muslims also hold to the virgin birth. The Quran states in Surah 19:20-22 (Yusuf Ali Translation):
She said: "How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?" He said: "So (it will be): Thy Lord saith, 'that is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us': It is a matter (so) decreed." So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place.
Part of this passage closely resembles Luke 1:34, Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"

However, it must be noted that in Christianity the virgin birth plays an infinitely greater role than it does in Islam— for contrary to the teachings of the Quran, Jesus was much more than a prophet. Muslims do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God (19:35), and consequently He cannot properly be called the Messiah (because only God Himself could fulfill the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah such as that He would establish an everlasting kingdom, 2 Samuel 7:13, and bear sin, Isaiah 53). But to the Christian, Jesus is the Son of God. He is, in the fullest sense the Messiah, Immanuel, and God With Us.

For Christians, the virgin birth plays a critical role in the unwrapping of God's plan for salvation— for it was the means through which God became flesh (see Why was the Virgin Birth So Important?). It was the means through which God entered the world— fully God and fully man— so that He could die for His people. Jesus is not a sign from Allah. Rather, Jesus is God in human flesh. Jesus is the Son of God and the only way to God. Apart from Jesus, no person can be saved. Apart from Him, no man's sin can be blotted out. Apart from Jesus Christ, redemption is impossible and there can be nothing but unreasonable hope.

Related Posts:
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Was the Virgin Birth Necessary? Why was the Virgin Birth So Important? (Part 1)
The Virgin Birth - Matthew 1:18
Jesus' Purpose: To Save His People From Their Sins (Part 1) - Matthew 1:21
Isaiah's Prophecy: It's Fulfillment (Part 1) - Matthew 1:22-23

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Quote of the Day #57 - Charles Spurgeon

A Christmas quote from Charles Spurgeon:
The joy which this first gospel preacher spoke of was no mean one, for he said, "I bring you good tidings"—that alone were joy: and not good tidings of joy only, but "good tidings of great joy." Every word is emphatic, as if to show that the gospel is above all things intended to promote, and will most abundantly create the greatest possible joy in the human heart wherever it is received. Man is like a harp unstrung, and the music of his soul's living strings is discordant, his whole nature wails with sorrow; but the son of David, that mighty harper, has come to restore the harmony of humanity, and where his gracious fingers move among the strings, the touch of the fingers of an incarnate God brings forth music sweet as that of the spheres, and melody rich as a seraph's canticle. Would God that all men felt that divine hand.
~Charles Spurgeon (Joy Born at Bethlehem)

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Quote of the Day #54 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote of the Day #55 - John Owen
Quote of the Day #56 - Alfred Edersheim
Quote Index

Friday, December 24, 2010

Was the Virgin Birth Necessary? Why was the Virgin Birth So Important? (Part 2) - The Christian Worldview

Was the Virgin Birth Necessary? In order to understand whether the virgin birth was necessary, it is important to understand that a perfect angel or a perfect man could not have atoned for sin. Only God Himself can bear the wrath of God, the punishment for man's sin, and rise again! Thus, it is clear that it had to be God who saved His people from their sin. But, on the other hand, it was man who was responsible for his sin. The book of Hebrews provides an explanation as to why Christ had to become man in order to pay for sin:
For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:16-17)
This passage demonstrates that Christ had to become man to pay for man's sins. If He had chosen to to pay for the sins of angels, it seems that He would have had to become angel (this He has not done, for unlike fallen men, whom Christ graciously chooses to save, He did not choose to save the angels that fell). Thus, in order to pay for sin, Christ had to be both God and man— fully God and yet fully man. However, this still does not provide an explanation as to why Christ had to be born of a virgin. Why couldn't He have simply flown down out of heaven in a human body?

The book of Galatians provides an answer to this question (emphasis added):
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)
It seems that if Christ had not been born under the law, He would have been unable to redeem those who were under the law. In Christ being born of the virgin Mary, it also made plain that Christ was indeed man. If Christ had not been born of a woman, would it really be appropriate to consider Him part of Eve's seed? (see Genesis 3:15)

It should also here be pointed out that in whatever way Jesus was conceived of by the Holy Spirit, He avoided the stain of original sin. There are differing opinions as to how original sin is passed on (federal headship, seminal headship, etc.), but regardless of which view a person may hold, Christ was miraculously kept from being born as the rest of humanity: by nature children of wrath (see Ephesians 2:3).

Why was the Virgin Birth So Important? The virgin birth marked the fulfillment of many prophecies: The Messiah had to be a descendant of David (see Psalm 89:3-4). Isaiah even specifically prophesied that the Messiah would be born of a virgin (see Isaiah 7:14). To list all of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah would be a lengthy task. But perhaps the most amazing promise of the coming Messiah can be found in the beginning of Genesis. Shortly after creation, when man sinned and fell, God promised that man would bruise Satan on the head (see Genesis 3:15). The Messiah is the fulfillment of this promise— for Jesus Christ is the only man to ever strike Satan with a fatal blow.

The virgin birth is also of great importance because it marked Jesus' entrance into the world. It marked the beginning. The beginning of redemption. Without the virgin birth, man would be without hope. All men would be found guilty and condemned to hell for eternity. But because of the virgin birth, because Christ became flesh and entered this world, salvation is possible! Despite man's indescribable wickedness, the door of salvation is open! And all who look to the cross, all who put their trust in Christ— that He alone can redeem, will be saved. That is the ultimate reason for the virgin birth— that God be glorified in saving His people from their sin.

* * *

The Westminster Confession (Chapter VIII, Section II) beautifully states some of these important truths which have just been discussed:
The Son of God, the second Person in the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance, and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon him man's nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities thereof; yet without sin: being conceived by he power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of her substance. So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion. Which person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.

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Christianity, Isalm, and the Virgin Birth - The Christian Worldview
Was the Virgin Birth Necessary? Why was the Virgin Birth So Important? (Part 1)
The Virgin Birth - Matthew 1:18
Isaiah's Prophecy: It's Fulfillment (Part 1) - Matthew 1:22-23
Jesus' Purpose: To Save His People From Their Sins (Part 1) - Matthew 1:21

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Quote of the Day #56 - Alfred Edersheim

A quote from Alfred Edersheim concerning Herod, the "reckless tyrant" who was responsible for the slaughter after Jesus' birth (Matthew 2:16):
Baffled in the hope of attaining his object through the Magi, the reckless tyrant sought to secure it by an indiscriminate slaughter of all the children in Bethlehem and its immediate neighborhood, from two years and under. True, considering the population of Bethlehem, their number could only have been small, probably twenty at most. But the deed was none the less atrocious; and these infants may justly be regarded as the 'protomartyrs,' the first witnesses, of Christ, 'the blossom of martyrdom'...
~Alfred Edersheim (The Life And Times Of Jesus The Messiah, Book 2, Chapter 8)

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Quote of the Day #54 - Charles Spurgeon
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Quote Index

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Was the Virgin Birth Necessary? Why was the Virgin Birth So Important? (Part 1) - The Christian Worldview

Was the Virgin Birth Necessary? Why was the Virgin Birth So Important? The person who asks these questions typically falls into one of two groups:
  1. The person doubts that the virgin birth took place.
  2. The person wants a better understanding of the virgin birth.
To the first group that doubts that the virgin birth took place, an explanation of the necessity and importance of the virgin birth probably won't convince you to believe in it. If you doubt that the virgin birth took place, your problem does not lie in the virgin birth itself; rather, your problem lies with the authority of the Bible— and ultimately God Himself. It's most likely that anyone in this first group flatly denies Christianity. But to the supposed Christian who doubts the virgin birth, consider this:

The atheist's logic, though it certainly starts on a totally faulty foundation, is correct. The atheist says, "There is no higher power and consequently there is nothing supernatural. Therefore there are no miracles, which means that the way in which the virgin birth occurred in the Bible is impossible." But to someone who believes in God, to state that God exists and therefore the virgin birth is an impossibility makes no logical sense. If God exists, the supernatural exists. If God exists, all things are possible.

The second group is a more diverse group. Anyone, whether a Christian or not, might desire a better understanding of the virgin birth in order to get a better grasp of Christianity. However, it must be pointed out that only to the Christian will this information have any deep value or meaning. Because, for the Christian, knowledge isn't the end, it's the means to a greater end— worship of the Most High God. For the Christian, the virgin birth is the beginning of the unwrapping of God's great plan for salvation. But to the person who isn't a Christian, the virgin birth, at the very most, is the beginning of a nice moral (and, for the most part, historically inaccurate) story.

Next >>

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Was the Virgin Birth Necessary? Why was the Virgin Birth So Important? (Part 2)
The Virgin Birth - Matthew 1:18
Isaiah's Prophecy: It's Fulfillment (Part 1) - Matthew 1:22-23
Jesus' Purpose: To Save His People From Their Sins (Part 1) - Matthew 1:21
Joseph's Dilemma - Matthew 1:19

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Quote of the Day #55 - John Owen

A quote from John Owen:
When a man on some outward respects forsakes the practice of any sin, men perhaps may look on him as a changed man. God knows that to his former iniquity he has added cursed hypocrisy, and is now on a safer path to hell than he was before. He has got another heart than he had, that is more cunning; not a new heart, that is more holy.
~John Owen (Of The Mortification Of Sin In Believers, Part 2, Chapter 5)

This quote was taken from the book Overcoming Sin and Temptation, Three Classic Works By John Owen, published by Crossway in 2006.

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Quote Index

Monday, December 20, 2010

Joseph's Obedience and Jesus' Birth - Matthew 1:24-25

After learning of Mary's pregnancy, Joseph had to decide how to respond. When he was leaning towards the conclusion to send Mary away secretly (Matthew 1:19), an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel's words revealed to Joseph the way in which he should deal with Mary: do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife (Matthew 1:20). Now it came down to this— would Joseph act according to the words of the angel of the Lord?

Being a righteous man, Joseph obeyed the angel of the Lord:
And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus. (Matthew 1:24-25)
The dream revealed to Joseph that Mary's apparent immorality was actually the coming of Jesus, the man who would save His people from their sins. Thus Joseph, in spite of how he might be seen by the community, took Mary as his wife— for perhaps he considered that any momentary consequences that he might face were nothing in comparison to the great things Mary's Child would bring about in the world.

Joseph was obedient to God. Matthew makes no mention of Joseph quarreling with God or questioning God's wisdom. If there was any question of Joseph's righteousness before the dream, Joseph's obedience after the dream demonstrates his genuine faith. Not only did Joseph obey the angel in taking Mary to be his wife, but Joseph also obeyed the angel in naming the Child Jesus.

It should be pointed out that the information Matthew gives in his gospel concerning the birth of Jesus is limited to the following: she gave birth to a son; and he called His name Jesus. Unlike Luke's gospel, there is no mention of shepherds or angels praising God (however, Matthew's gospel does contain the account of the visit of the magi, something no other gospel writer includes). The birth of this Child, as Matthew pointed out previously, is the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy (Matthew 1:23). The birth of Jesus, as Isaiah records, means God with us. The Word— God— had become human flesh, and He made His dwelling among men (John 1:14).

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Jesus' Purpose: To Save His People From Their Sins (Part 1) - Matthew 1:21
Joseph, Do Not Be Afraid to Take Mary as Your Wife - Matthew 1:20
Joseph's Dilemma - Matthew 1:19

Sunday, December 19, 2010

True Prayer—True Power! - Charles Spurgeon - Sermon Sunday

True Prayer—True Power! is a sermon preached by Charles Spurgeon in 1860. The Scripture which this passage covers is Mark 11:24, "Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive and ye shall have them." (KJV) To hear the reading of this sermon, click here. If you would prefer to read the sermon, click here.

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You Are Dearly Loved By God - Paul Washer - Sermon Sunday

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Quote of the Day #54 - Charles Spurgeon

A quote from Charles Spurgeon on annihilationism:
Let us think what that death is! It is not non-existence; I do not know that I would
lift a finger to save my fellow-creature from mere non-existence. I see no great hurt
in annihilation; certainly nothing that would alarm me as a punishment for sin.
~Charles Spurgeon (WCo133)

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Isaiah's Prophecy: God With Us (Part 2) - Matthew 1:22-23


Isaiah's prophecy goes beyond the nativity scene. God with us carries much more meaning than Jesus being born in a manger. In fact, it expresses one of the core essentials of the Christian faith— that Jesus Christ is God— that Jesus is God with us, the only hope for humanity.
Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US." (Matthew 1:22-23)
The sheer shockingness of the simple reality of God with us, might not at first be realized. But just think about it for a moment... God with us. God is holy. He is pure, beyond reproach, all good... And He came to earth to dwell among men. He came to dwell among sinful men. Fallen men. Men drenched in unceasing sin, deserving of no mercy, no grace—nothing but condemnation. And yet, God still came to dwell with men! Even more amazing, He came to save men! God will be worshiped and praised for all of eternity, and yet this still is not an adequate response to such uncomprehending love!

In order to gain a better appreciation for God with us, it should be considered what God not with us would be like. God with us means hope. It means mercy, grace, and forgiveness. God not with us means misery. It means justice, punishment, and damnation. God with us is peace. God not with us makes God the enemy. It's war against God. It's a failed attempt at assassinating the eternal God. It's a hopeless situation in which there is nothing to look forward to except eternal suffering. If God is for us, then who can stand against us? (Romans 8:31) But if God is not for us, then we are sure to fall.

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Related Posts:
Joseph's Obedience and Jesus' Birth - Matthew 1:24-25
Isaiah's Prophecy: It's Fulfillment (Part 1) - Matthew 1:22-23
Jesus' Purpose: To Save His People From Their Sins (Part 1) - Matthew 1:21
Joseph, Do Not Be Afraid to Take Mary as Your Wife - Matthew 1:20
Joseph's Dilemma - Matthew 1:19

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Quote of the Day #53 - A. W. Pink

This quote is taken from A. W. Pink's book, The Sovereignty of God. It concerns God's sovereignty and human responsibility:
To emphasize the sovereignty of God, without also maintaining the accountability of the creature, tends to fatalism; to be so concerned in maintaining the responsibility of man, as to lose sight of the sovereignty of God, is to exalt the creature and dishonour the Creator.
~A. W. Pink (The Sovereignty of God, Introduction)

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Quote of the Day #51 - Leonard Ravenhill
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Isaiah's Prophecy: It's Fulfillment (Part 1) - Matthew 1:22-23

Through Joseph's dream, Mary's innocence is confirmed. Mary is to give birth to a human child. The Child would go on to do things no human had ever done (and things that no human will ever do again). In Joseph's dream, the angel of the Lord did not directly state that the Child in Mary's womb was God Himself, but this truth could easily be implied— for what normal human being can save his people from their sins?

After Joseph's dream comes to an end, Matthew interrupts the narrative and states:
Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US." (Matthew 1:22-23)
The prophets had spoken much of the coming of the Messiah. Isaiah especially had much to say concerning the coming of this King. By inserting this quotation from Isaiah 7:14, more credibility is added to Matthew's account of Jesus' birth— for it shows that ancient prophesy was in alignment with the way in which Jesus came into the world.

The contents of Isaiah's prophecy are used to further demonstrate that this Child was no ordinary child. Not only was this Child conceived of by the Holy Spirit, not only was this Child to to be born of the virgin Mary, not only was this Child to save His people from His sins— but this Child was Immanuel, God with us. The Saviour— the Messiah. This Child was God Himself!

Isaiah prophesied of the coming of this Child over five-hundred years before Jesus' birth. This Child was not Plan B. The coming of this Child had been planned when Isaiah walked the earth. The coming of this Messiah had been planned when Abraham offered up Isaac as a sacrifice, for The LORD Will Provide (Genesis 22:14). The coming of this Messiah had been planned at the fall, when God told Satan that Eve's seed would bruise him on the head (Genesis 3:15). The coming of the Messiah had even been planned from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-5)!

Next >>

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Isaiah's Prophecy: God With Us (Part 2) - Matthew 1:22-23
Jesus' Purpose: To Save His People From Their Sins (Part 1) - Matthew 1:21
Joseph, Do Not Be Afraid to Take Mary as Your Wife - Matthew 1:20
Joseph's Dilemma - Matthew 1:19
The Virgin Birth - Matthew 1:18

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Quote of the Day #52 - John MacArthur

A quote from John MacArthur on Christmas:
Messiah Christ the Savior of the world has been available to men every moment of every day since He arrived, two thousand years ago. And yet men continue to reject Him, continue to refuse Him. There's no reason to wait. The evidence is monumental to verify who He is, and instead of receiving Him men mock Him. And they take that one holiday of the year that is designated to celebrate His coming into the world and they turn it into a crass kind of sick materialism and make Jesus the joke of Christmas. But don't you see friends, it's in this kind of a dark, sick world that the announcement of Jesus Christ must continually and faithfully be given even though the world will not receive.
~John MacArthur (The Saviour Is Born - 12/19/1971)

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Jesus' Purpose: To Save His People From Their Sins (Part 2) - Matthew 1:21

She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)
The word "saved" implies danger. There is no need to be saved if there is nothing to be saved from. The Jews in the first century wanted deliverance. They wanted to be saved from a secular government, but many did not realize that they first needed to be rescued from something else. They needed to be saved from their sins.

At His first coming, Jesus did not come to rule, but to die. He came to save His people from their sin. The supreme irony was that He came not only to save Jewish people, but also the Gentiles. The wicked heathen people whom the Jews had separated themselves from would be saved by the Messiah! Praise God for His great and wide grace!

Doubtless, Joesph might have confined the words spoken by the angel, "His people," to include only the Jews. But these words contain a much wider scope of people, these words include the redeemed people of all ages. They include both Jews and Gentiles. They include Enoch and Noah. They include Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They include Moses, Ruth, David, Esther, and all the rest of the redeemed, both in the past and those yet to be born. All of these people are saved by God, saved from their sin, and granted that which they do not deserve.

Jesus came to save His people from their sins! He came to save His people from that which they rightly deserved! The final penalty for sin is eternal damnation. Hell. The wrath of God. But Christ bore His people's punishment on the cross; He bore the wrath of God in order to make salvation possible!

After the angel of the Lord had finished his explanation concerning the purpose of the Messiah, Joesph's dream was complete. When Joseph woke up, he obediently acted according to the words of the angel and took Mary as his wife.

<< Prev

Related Posts:
Jesus' Purpose: To Save His People From Their Sins (Part 1) - Matthew 1:21
Joseph, Do Not Be Afraid to Take Mary as Your Wife - Matthew 1:20
Joseph's Dilemma - Matthew 1:19
The Virgin Birth - Matthew 1:18
Isaiah's Prophecy: It's Fulfillment (Part 1) - Matthew 1:22-23

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Jesus' Purpose: To Save His People From Their Sins (Part 1) - Matthew 1:21

The virgin birth, in and of itself, was a great miracle, but the child to be born would bring about even greater miracles. In the past few verses, Matthew has mainly focused on Mary and Joseph. The emphasis has been on Mary's unique pregnancy, but now the emphasis shifts to the infant who is soon to be born:
She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)
In a dream, the angel of the Lord told Joseph concerning his wife, "She will bear a Son". This event would certainly come to pass. Nothing could be done to stop or prevent Mary's pregnancy. What Joseph may have wished to happen did not matter, for if God deems that something will happen, it will happen.

The angel of the Lord commanded Joseph, "And you shall call His name Jesus". Jesus means Saviour. He is the Anointed One— the Messiah. Through His life, Jesus would bring about dramatic change, but not the change which many had expected. At His first coming, Jesus did not disturb the world order. He didn't overthrow the Roman government and restore governing power to Israel. He didn't launch an assault against the Gentiles, nor did He make Himself the ruling king of the known world. In short, Jesus did not lead an army so that He could reign over the earth.

At His second coming, Jesus will reign over the earth (the book of Revelation describes the bloody scene leading up to Jesus' reign). However, if Jesus had not come for a different purpose the first time, then no man would be able to dwell in His kingdom. God is perfect in holiness; He requires man to have a perfect record. All men have fallen incredibly short of this standard of perfection. Not even the animal sacrifices offered up to God in the Old Testament times were enough to blot out man's innumerable sins. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Hebrews 10:4)

Jesus did something of infinite greatness at His first coming. No words can fully describe this supreme act of sovereign love. Jesus told His disciples, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13) That is what Jesus did: He laid down His life— He died. But death did not hold Him, He defeated the grave! He rose again! He did what only God can do, He saved His people from their sins.

Next >>

Related Posts:
Jesus' Purpose: To Save His People From Their Sins (Part 2) - Matthew 1:21
Joseph, Do Not Be Afraid to Take Mary as Your Wife - Matthew 1:20
Joseph's Dilemma - Matthew 1:19
The Virgin Birth - Matthew 1:18
Isaiah's Prophecy: It's Fulfillment (Part 1) - Matthew 1:22-23

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Quote of the Day #50 - Charles Spurgeon

This is a quote from Charles Spurgeon concerning the presence of Christ throughout Scripture:
From every little village in England—it does not matter where it is—there is sure to be a road to London. Though there may not be a road to certain other places, there is certain to be a road to London. Now, from every text in the Bible there is a road to Jesus Christ...
~Charles Spurgeon (How to Read the Bible)

Related Posts:
Quote of the Day #51 - Leonard Ravenhill
Quote of the Day #47 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote of the Day #48 - John Owen
Quote of the Day #49 - Paul Washer
Quote Index

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Joseph, Do Not Be Afraid to Take Mary as Your Wife - Matthew 1:20

Joseph was afraid to take Mary as his wife (see Joseph's Dilemma). Perhaps he was afraid because of lawful reasons. Perhaps he was afraid because he did not want to bring dishonor to his family's name. However, when Joseph was still in the process of considering his many options, he had a dream:
But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:20)
Joseph must have been shocked that the angel of the Lord spoke to him through a dream. Surely, as a Jew, he realized that throughout history God had often revealed marvelous wonders through dreams! Joseph (the other one) witnessed prophetic events in his dreams which foretold the day that his brothers would bow down to him in Egypt. While in Egypt, Joseph also interpreted the dreams of a cupbearer, a baker, and Pharaoh himself. Daniel likewise interpreted the dream of the great king Nebuchadnezzar. Joel also prophesied of a coming day in which God would pour forth His Spirit on mankind, sons and daughters would prophesy, and old men would dream dreams (Joel 2:28).

However, the event that the angel of the Lord mentioned, that the child conceived in Mary was of the Holy Spirit, had never occurred. No person had ever been born of a virgin. Adam was made from the dust; Eve was made from one of Adam's ribs, but no man had ever been found to be with child by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18).

To marry Mary or not to marry Mary? The question must have had a constant presence in Joseph's mind. How he responded to this question would have a great impact on the remainder of his life. Fortunately, Joseph did not have to decide for himself. The angel of Lord told Joseph exactly what he should do: do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.

There's a certain amount of irony in this statement, "do not be afraid". Don't be afraid Joseph! Mary is pure; take her as your wife. Don't be afraid Joseph! Mary is only pregnant by the Holy Spirit... something that has never occurred in all of human history. Don't be afraid Joseph! This is just the beginning of the fulfillment of many prophecies. Don't be afraid Joseph! This is just the unfolding of the events which the past prophets longed for... Don't be afraid Joseph!

Joseph heeded the angel's advice, for Matthew records that he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:24). In the middle of such strange and mysterious events, Joseph was obedient to God. He chose to trust God and do as the angel of the Lord suggested, regardless of the consequences that it might bring.

Related Posts:
Jesus' Purpose: To Save His People From Their Sins (Part 1) - Matthew 1:21
Joseph's Dilemma - Matthew 1:19
The Virgin Birth - Matthew 1:18
The Creation of Man - The Christian Worldview
The Lineage of the Messiah - Matthew 1:1-17

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Quote of the Day #49 - Paul Washer

A quote from Paul Washer:
It is only against the pitch blackness of the night that we see the glory of the stars. And it is only against the pitch blackness of man’s radical depravity that we can begin to see the glories of the gospel.
~Paul Washer

Related Posts:
Quote of the Day #50 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote of the Day #46 - Paul Washer
Quote of the Day #47 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote of the Day #48 - John Owen
Quote Index

Monday, December 06, 2010

Joseph's Dilemma - Matthew 1:19

Joseph, Mary's husband, is mentioned a few times in the beginning of Matthew and Luke; he is also mentioned one last time in connection with Jesus' childhood visit to the temple (Luke 2:41-52). Very little is written in Scripture concerning Joseph, especially in comparison to Mary. However, the book of Matthew does provide enough information to gain adequate insight into the person of Joseph, Jesus' earthly father:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. (Matthew 1:18-19)
This passage clearly states that Joseph was a righteous man. Joseph was not a hypocrite; he was not cold-hearted. Being a Jew, Joseph must have been familiar with the law of God (the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). He would have been familiar with Deuteronomy 22, which contains several laws that address the sin of adultery— laws that might have, at first, appeared to apply to his predicament.

The law placed the sentence of death upon the engaged woman and man (not the man the woman is engaged to) who commit adultery (Deuteronomy 22:23-24). If Joseph had simply chosen to ignore the law of God, Matthew would be wrong to label Joseph as a righteous man. If Joseph really believed that Mary had committed adultery, he would have been unjust to not want to disgrace her and to plan to send her away secretly.

Perhaps the more Joseph thought about the matter, the more mysterious it became: Mary was a woman of truth... and she was pregnant. But how? Where was the man? And why... why would she make up a ludicrous story and expect anyone to believe her?

Perhaps after careful consideration, Joseph believed Mary's story. Perhaps he concluded that it would be unacceptable to wed Mary, since she was pregnant, but it would also be wrong to defame her, since her pregnancy was not the result of immorality. Regardless, Matthew seems to indicate that Joseph was still in the process of coming to a decision (understandably), when he was interrupted— and divinely guided to a decision. For Matthew writes: But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream... (Matthew 1:20).

Related Posts:
Joseph, Do Not Be Afraid to Take Mary as Your Wife - Matthew 1:20
Joseph's Obedience and Jesus' Birth - Matthew 1:24-25
The Virgin Birth - Matthew 1:18
Mary's Embarrassing Privilege - Matthew 1:18
Jesus' Purpose: To Save His People From Their Sins (Part 1) - Matthew 1:21

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God - Jonathan Edwards - Sermon Sunday

Jonathan Edwards' sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, has been deemed by many to be one of the greatest sermons in American history. In this sermon, Edwards describes the mortality of natural man and the horrifying reality of hell. Click here to listen to a reading of this sermon.

Related Posts:
Calming the Storm - John MacArthur - Sermon Sunday
Defending Your Faith - R. C. Sproul - Sermon Sunday
You Are Dearly Loved By God - Paul Washer - Sermon Sunday
Be Encouraged, Die to Self - I'll Be Honest - Sermon Sunday
A Call to Wonder - Paul Washer - Sermon Sunday

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Quote of the Day #48 - John Owen

A quote from John Owen:
As sin weakens, so it darkens the soul. It is a cloud, a thick cloud, that spreads itself over the face of the soul, and intercepts all the beams of God's love and favor.
~John Owen (Of The Mortification Of Sin In Believers, Part 1, Chapter 4)

John Owen was a puritan born in the early 1600s. This quote was taken from the book Overcoming Sin and Temptation, Three Classic Works By John Owen, published by Crossway in 2006.

Related Posts:
Quote of the Day #49 - Paul Washer
Quote of the Day #36 - John Owen
Quote of the Day #46 - Paul Washer
Quote of the Day #47 - Charles Spurgeon
Quote Index

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Virgin Birth - Matthew 1:18

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.
Matthew has already explored Jesus' lineage (see Matthew 1:1-17), but he is now about to describe the birth of Jesus Christ in greater detail. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows... What Matthew is about to state is indisputable; it is exactly what happened and absolutely true, just as the rest of Scripture.

Jesus, who is God, became flesh. He became man. He was born by an earthly mother, but had no biological father. Mary, Jesus' mother, was betrothed to Joseph. Alfred Edersheim writes in The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah:
From that moment Mary was the betrothed wife of Joseph; their relationship as sacred, as if they had been already been wedded. Any breach of it would be treated as adultery; nor could the band be dissolved except, as after marriage, by regular divorce. Ten months might intervene between the betrothal and marriage.
Barring any sort of major tragedy, Mary and Joseph's marriage would certainly come to pass. But an apparent tragedy did occur, before they came together she was found to be with child. When Joseph first heard this, he must have been shocked, "Mary... pregnant... what? Mary would never— there must be some strange explanation for this...".

There was. Mary was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. Jesus' conception was not the result of immorality; rather, Jesus has always existed and always will exist. His entrance into the world was by divine means. Mary likely told Joseph all of these things and of her encounter with the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:26-33)— now it came down to one thing, would Joseph believe her?

Related Posts:
Joseph's Dilemma - Matthew 1:19
Mary's Embarrassing Privilege - Matthew 1:18
Jesus' Purpose: To Save His People From Their Sins (Part 1) - Matthew 1:21
Isaiah's Prophecy: It's Fulfillment (Part 1) - Matthew 1:22-23
The Lineage of the Messiah - Matthew 1:1-17

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Mary's Embarrassing Privilege - Matthew 1:18

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.
Mary was pregnant, but not yet married. She was living among Jewish people, many of whom would have most certainly seen her as unclean. Perhaps "embarrassing" privilege is lacking in severity. Since Mary was living among a people whose law rightly condemned adulterers to death, Mary's privilege, while it was most certainly great, was a fearful privilege.

Mary appears to have been a strong God-fearing and righteous woman (see Luke 1:46-55). Out of all the women who could have been chosen to give birth to the Messiah, Mary was chosen. From this, it seems that Mary must have led a life of integrity. If Mary at any point told the general public of her encounter with the angel, perhaps her audience would have seriously considered that this wasn't just another disobedient daughter— that perhaps this story and Elizabeth's pregnancy (Luke 1:24) had something in common— that perhaps Mary's story was indeed the truth.

However, it's also important to consider that the midst of such a crazy situation, Mary might have been unaware of her surroundings. She knew why she was pregnant. She knew that she was going to give birth to the Messiah. She knew that she had really encountered an angel. Why should she take notice of the accusations being hurled at her? She feared God and was walking with Him! Perhaps she remained relatively stress-free in the middle of what appeared to be a deadly disaster.

Related Posts:
Joseph's Dilemma - Matthew 1:19
The Virgin Birth - Matthew 1:18
Joseph, Do Not Be Afraid to Take Mary as Your Wife - Matthew 1:20
Joseph's Obedience and Jesus' Birth - Matthew 1:24-25
The Lineage of the Messiah - Matthew 1:1-17