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 20, 2015
Christ Accomplished God’s Will - December 20, 2015 - Fourth Sunday in Advent - Text: Hebrews 10:5-10
Today is the fourth and last Sunday in Advent. Today we have lighted all four of our Advent candles which means that we only have a few more days to wait until we celebrate Christmas. In four short days, on Christmas Eve, we will begin celebrating Christmas. Christmas day is not the end or culmination of our the Christmas season, but the beginning of the twelve days of Christmas. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the world does not get it, instead, for the rest of the world, the celebration usually ends the day after and then the after Christmas sales begins.
Getting to our text for this morning, the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews gives us Christ’s words as He quotes David’s words in the Ps. 40:6-8. We read, “5Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; 6in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7Then I said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book”’” (v. 5-7).
The Lord’s desire in the system of offering sacrifices in the Old Testament was not simply that sacrifices should be offered for the sake of offering sacrifices. His desire was not that sacrifices should be offered for the sake of earning salvation, or doing a duty, and so forth. Rather, the sacrificial system of the Old Testament was a reminder, a vivid visual reminder of sin and its cost, its price, that is that the price for sin was death. Blood had to be shed. And, unfortunately, all the sacrifices of the Old Testament meant nothing, at least as far as paying any price for sins committed. They were simply sacrifices which pointed to what was to come, namely the ultimate sacrifice of God Himself.
When Jesus came, He came not simply to be obedient for Himself. Sure, He could have lived a perfect life and then ended His life simply going to heaven and omitting the cross, which Satan tempted Him to do, but that is not what He came to do and that is not what He did. Christ Jesus came, God in flesh, to be our substitute, which is why He had to be and was truly a human man. As our substitute, as a human, He did everything we cannot do and He did it perfectly. As our substitute He lived perfectly. He obeyed all God’s commands perfectly. He obeyed all of God’s laws perfectly. He fulfilled all of God’s prophecies and promises concerning the coming Messiah perfectly. And He did it all for us, in our place.
Jesus came to do the will of the Father. And the will of the Father was that Jesus came to give His life for ours. This giving of Himself was the plan way back in the Garden of Eden and this was the plan even before the Lord began His work of creation. This plan was the will of the Father to redeem the world from sin and death.
How does the epistle writer understand these words? He gives his explanation beginning at verse eight, “8When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (v. 8-10).
Although David was a man of God he was not the Christ, the Messiah. David was a type of Christ in that some of the things he did in his life were like what Christ would come and do. David was king of Israel and he offered sacrifices for his people. Yet, as was stated before, the sacrifices David offered did not do anything, at least they did not earn or merit any forgiveness, instead they merely pointed to the ultimate sacrifice of Christ Himself. But the fact remains that David was a type of Christ in this priestly role of offering sacrifices.
For His part we say that Christ is the antitype, that is He is the fulfillment of the type. He is the one to whom the type points. Christ is the antitype in that He is the fulfillment of David. Christ offered sacrifices, but not simply sacrifices for the sake of offering sacrifices. Christ offered the sacrifice of Himself. His sacrifice was the once and for all sacrifice that all the other sacrifices pointed to.
Thus, with His offering of Himself on the cross, Christ abolished the law. Christ fulfilled the law by obeying it completely, so now we are no longer under the curse of the law, and of course we say, thanks be to God.
Ultimately we then understand that Christ’s work brought our justification and sanctification. Christ’s work brought our justification because He came as a substitute for us, that is He did what He did for us in our place because we are unable to do and live as we should. So, when God looks at us, by faith in Jesus He sees us as perfect, which is what He demands. Christ work also brings our sanctification in that as we make use of His means of grace the Holy Spirit works in us to do the good works which He has prepared in advance for us to do.
And so, as usual we ask, “What Does This Mean?” First and foremost this means that we understand our situation in life. We are conceived and born in sin. We daily sin much and are in need of forgiveness. We sin in thought, word and deed. We sin without even thinking about sinning. Sinning is simply our nature. Because of our sin, our just reward should be death, eternal spiritual death and physical death. Yet, although we know that we may physically pass on from this world, by faith in Jesus, we will never have to face eternal spiritual death.
So, we celebrate Christ’s birth. We celebrate that Jesus is God in flesh. We celebrate that Jesus came to do what we cannot do, live perfectly, which is what is demanded by God. We celebrate that Jesus came to do what was promised.
Jesus came to do, not only what we could not and cannot do, He came to do what all people could not and cannot do. He came to accomplished what all the Old Testament sacrifices pointed to. The bounty on our heads is death. Because of our sin our verdict was death. And there was nothing and is nothing we can do in and of ourselves to change that verdict. This has been the verdict since the Garden of Eden. This has been the verdict to which all the sacrifices of the Old Testament have pointed. Jesus came, not only to offer sacrifices, but to offer Himself as the once and for all sacrifice for us in our place. This is also why Jesus had to be truly human. Just as we understand that we do not substitute or compare unlike items (the example often give is that of apples and oranges) so we understand that Jesus had to be human, He had to be one of us in order to be a substitute for us, in order that the giving of His life might be counted as the giving of our life.
Jesus allowed Himself to be sacrificed after He had fulfilled all God’s laws and promises perfectly. What we cannot do. What the whole nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, the family of Jesus could not do, Jesus did perfectly. He fulfilled all of God’s laws perfectly. He fulfilled all of God’s prophecies and promises concerning the Messiah, concerning Himself, perfectly. This is why He had to be truly God. Any ordinary human being could not be born perfectly, nor live perfectly. It was only as He was truly God that He was born without sin and could live perfectly.
Hindsight is often twenty-twenty, as the saying goes, that is because we have the ability, we have the privilege of looking back and seeing that what Christ did He did for us. We are conceived and born in sin, Christ was conceived and born in perfection. We daily sin much and are in need of forgiveness, Christ never sinned. We mess up, Christ cleans up. Left to ourselves we would be eternally lost. Thanks be to God we are not left to ourselves. By faith in Jesus, faith given through His means of grace, He gives us salvation, forgiveness and life.
And so, everything is just about ready. We have been planning. We have been preparing ourselves. We have been pointed to the words of promise that a Savior would be born. We have been reminded of the need for a Savior, because of our sin, our being born in sin and our daily sinning. We have been reminded that God keeps His promises and so we can count on Him. I think we are just about ready. On Thursday evening we will return. We will be reminded of God’s fulfillment of giving His Son to be born lowly in a manger. We will be reminded that the reason for the birth of the Christ child is that He was born to die, to give His life as a ransom for all. And we will begin to celebrate. Friday we will indeed celebrate. And this is just the beginning. I would encourage you to not be like the rest of the world. Friday is not the day to stop celebrating. Friday, or the day after, Saturday, or perhaps the Monday after, the rest of the world will go back to everyday life. The radio stations will cease playing Christmas music. The stores will have their after Christmas sales. Life will go on. I do know some families who have a tradition of giving their children gifts each day for each of the twelve days of Christmas. Perhaps that is one why to remember to keep celebrating. Because the celebration continues until January 6 which is Epiphany. So, again I encourage you to be different, to shine as a light to the world and to celebrate so that others might see your good works, that they might see your celebration and celebrating and give glory to the Lord who does all and gives all. To Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.