Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, December 29, 2013
God’s Plan Is Not Coincidence - December 29, 2013 - First Sunday after Christmas - Text: Galatians 4:4-7
It was a cold night. You were on your way home from a friends house. It was late and the road seemed deserted. You had not seen a house or another car for miles. All of a sudden your tire blows, you swerve and find yourself in the ditch. You are not hurt, just a little shaken. You get out to survey the situation. Your mind is racing a hundred miles an hour as you see no way to move your car, and no house within miles. Behind you a car pulls up and stops. It is your neighbors who are on their way home. How relieved you are as you explain to them what happened. You all get in the neighbors car and marvel at the coincidence of the events that took place. I am here to tell you that it was not a coincidence. As a matter of fact, I do not believe in coincidence. God’s ways are not our ways. He works in our lives according to His plan and purposes. As I say that, however, let me remind you that God always has the best in mind for us in our lives. Pain, suffering, struggles, evil happen because we live in a sin filled world. Pain, suffering, struggles, evil happen because of sin. For God’s part, He always works to bring out the best in any and all situations. And the best may not always be what we perceive to be the best. Certainly we might not think of physical death to a very ill person as being the best, but in Godly terms, what is better than the perfect healing of eternal life in heaven? So, this story is not meant to suggest that God intends evil or “bad” things to happen, rather it illustrates how God works good in our lives and so in our text this morning Paul explains the seeming coincidences of our salvation.
From the events at the end of the book of Malachi to the beginning of the events of the gospel of Matthew was a period of over 400 years. From the events of Genesis chapter three to Matthew was a period of over 4000 years. After Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden in Genesis chapter three, God immediately promised to send a Savior. God’s promise was that the Savior would come and would crush Satan, while in turn being crushed, that is in completely defeating Satan, God would suffer death Himself. God did not attach a time to His promise. And as we know, God’s time is not our time. God’s plan was that at the right time, the time He had set, this Savior would be born. Paul’s reference is that Christ’s birth, which we celebrated Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, was the right time, thus Christ Jesus was born. This was not a coincidence but was a part of God’s plan.
Joseph had to go to Bethlehem for the census of Caesar Augustus because he was a descendant of David, King David. Joseph was also a descendant of the line of promise of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Mary was pregnant at the time of the news of the census. You remember also that Mary’s relative Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist the fore runner, the way preparer of Jesus, was also pregnant at this time. That all these things were taking place and that Jesus was born at this time was not a coincidence, but was a part of God’s divine plan.
One other aspect of this fullness of time is that as Paul says in Romans [5:6-8] “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinner, Christ died for us.” God did not wait until we could work out our own salvation. He did not wait for us to become good people. It was not a coincidence that He came while we were sinners, as a matter of fact this is the reason He came. He came in the fullness of time, while we were sinners, because we are sinners, Because we cannot save ourselves.
Paul goes on to add that Christ was born of a woman. Something so obvious seems trivial, but Paul does not write to be trivial. Our Savior is our Savior because He was born of a woman. Only because He was a human being like us could He save us. Only because He was a human being could He be our substitute, trading His perfect life for our imperfect, sin filled lives. And, so that we do not go away mislead I must remind you that Jesus was also truly God, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit as we confess in the Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed. He had to be truly God in order to be born in perfection, in order to fulfill the command of God to be perfect and in order to raise Himself from the dead. Before the time had fully come, at which time Christ became a man, He was true God with the Father and the Spirit in heaven enjoying all the glory that was His as God. When the time had fully come, when all of human history was at just the right point, when the nine months of gestation was completed, Jesus took upon Himself to be one of us, a human being. This was not a coincidence, but was part of God’s plan.
As a human being He was born under the Law, the civil law, the moral law and the ceremonial law. We remember that eight days after His birth His mother and father took Him to be circumcised and we remember that at the age of 40 days Mary and Joseph took Him to the Temple to offer the sacrifice to redeem the first born as prescribed by the Law. We remember that at the temple Mary and Joseph met Simeon and Anna. We remember that at the age of twelve Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of the Passover. He followed all the Jewish Laws, perfectly. This was not a coincidence, but was a part of God’s plan. What the whole nation of Israel could not do; what we cannot do; Jesus did perfectly, for us, in our place. All that the ceremonial laws command, all that the ceremonial laws were intended to point to, Jesus fulfilled, completing and abolishing all the ceremonial laws so that they are no longer necessary. All this He did for us in our place because of His great love for us.
He did all of this to redeem us. Redeem, that is a big word. When I hear the word redeem I usually think of trading stamps. You might remember, the S & H Green stamps. You collect the stamps, paste them in a book and then take them to the “redemption” center where you redeemed them or “traded” them for some merchandise. Redeem is a good word to use for Christ’s work. However, Christ did not collect a bunch of trading stamps with which to redeem us. We have been born into this world in sin. Each of us is a sinner. We are conceived in sin and lost and condemned from birth. By ourselves we are lost. There is no way we can save ourselves. By God’s grace, His undeserved love for us, He sent His one and only Son born in the flesh for us. As God, Christ was born perfect. As man, Christ was born as one of us in order to save us. Christ lived the perfect life, under the Law. He suffered, physically, mentally, spiritually and eternally and He died, suffering hell for us. By His suffering He bought us back, redeemed us from sin, Satan, death, and hell. He redeemed us, He traded, His life for ours, His death for ours, His resurrection for our. Purely by His grace for us, not as a coincidence, but as a part of His plan.
Because we are redeemed, God’s children, with the Holy Spirit we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Paul is not making reference to some charismatic utterance with which we will respond. What he is saying is that because God has redeemed us, made us His sons and daughters, He has filled us with His Spirit through which we can call upon Him and worship Him. Our worship of God is not something we do of our selves and is not a coincidence, but is from God and is a part of His plan.
“So you are no longer a slave, but a son” (v. 7). A slave is subject to a master. In our case we were slaves to sin, ruled by our own sinful desires. Now, because we have been redeemed, we are no longer slaves, but God’s children. We are ruled by God, living our lives to please Him. It is not a coincidence that we live our lives for Him, this is a part of His plan.
In all His doings God made us His sons and daughters and heirs of the kingdom of heaven. He did it all. There is nothing left for us to do. As His sons and daughters, His children, we are His heirs. We are the one’s who are given and who receive the inheritance of eternal life in heaven. So that at the right time, when our time has fully come, He will take us to be with Himself in heaven for eternity. This is not a coincidence, but this is a part of His plan.
The last two words of verse seven are very important. The last two words are “through God.” It is only through God and God in Christ that we are heirs of the kingdom of heaven. Paul expresses this same idea in Romans [8:15-17], he says, “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Through Christ we are heirs. Through Christ we share in His suffering, death, and resurrection. Through Christ we are redeemed, bought back and made heirs. Through Christ we share in His glory in heaven not by coincidence but by God plan.
That you are here today, that you are a redeemed child of God is not a coincidence. As Paul says in First Timothy, “This is good, and pleases god our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth [1 Tim. 2:3-4].” God has chosen you. He has sent His one and only Son to die for you and to rise for you. It did not just happen but is a part of God’s plan. Thanks be to the Lord for He is good for His mercy endures forever. To Him alone be the glory, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.