Life. In Light Of Eternity.

Putting Life in Perspective…and writing stories

Archive for the tag “adventblog”

Advent: 25 December

Today marks the end of our advent calendar. We hope that as you have read each day you have been blessed by these posts. The king of the universe and Our Lord is worthy of worship.

We would like to wish you a Merry Christmas.

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Advent: 23 December

Below is another piece by Stuart Chase, as we consider the virgin birth. You can read more from him over at deformed.co.za.


It is impossible for a virgin to conceive, they argue. And yet the Bible tells us quite plainly that Mary did conceive, and give birth, as a virgin. The question to be asked is, how important is the doctrine of the virgin birth to historic Christianity? Its significance is at least fourfold.

First, it is significant because it shows that his birth was supernatural. Right from the outset, Jesus’ life was shown to be one of supernatural significance. The story of Jesus of Nazareth commenced with a supernatural birth and concluded with a supernatural resurrection and ascension. As Donald Macleod notes, “The virgin birth is … blatantly supernatural, defying our rationalism, informing us that all that follows belongs to the same order as itself and that if we find offence there is no point in proceeding further.”[1. Donald Macleod, The Person of Christ: Contours of Christian Theology (Downer’s Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1998), 37.]

Second, it is significant because it shows that humanity can’t redeem itself. The human race was infected by sin. The sin nature, it seems, is passed from father to children; Jesus was therefore born without a sin nature because he had no biological human father. This made him uniquely qualified to serve as humanity’s Saviour.

Read more…

Advent: 21 December

The old testament is filled with rituals that were ment to guide our relationship with God. There was many priests who would serve to mediate between God and man. There were various sacrifices that were made to atone for sin. All of this was a shadow of what was to come.

The book of Hebrews was written so the we can see that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, has not just come to fit into the earthly system of priestly ministry. He was not just a mere prophet. He wasn’t just the best and final human priest or just a significant sacrifice.

Jesus came to fulfill and put an end to that system of constant sacrifice. There is no need for priests to mediate for us because Jesus himself is ministering for us in heaven. The Old Testament tabernacle and priests and sacrifices were shadows. Now the reality has come, and the shadows pass away.

That’s what Christmas is. Christmas is the replacement of shadows with the real thing. Jesus.

Now the main point in what has been said is this:
we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat
at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the
heavens, a minister in the sanctuary, and in the true
tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.
Hebrews 8:1–2

(This was inspired in part by John Pipers advent-Good news of Great Joy)

Advent: 20 December

One of the images that comes to mind when we speak about Christmas is the image of Jesus as a baby. It is a tender yet striking image. Jesus as a new born, fresh from the womb, wrapped in swaddling cloth laying within a trough. It is in the centre of most nativity scenes. But we must be mindful to remember that is not where the image stops. The later part of Luke 2 tells us the story of when Jesus as a boy was found in the temple to be speaking to the teachers with wisdom beyond his years;

Luke 2:46-49  After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress and he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Jesus is not just a child that was born, he knew at a young age what his purpose was and he grew up with this in mind;

Luke 2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

Christmas is beautiful to us as it signifies the entrance of our Jesus into this world on the path to our redemption and his glory. Having accomplished his goal he is now to be considered the Lord Jesus Christ. Not the baby Jesus.

Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

Advent: 19 December (Stuart)

The below (slightly long post) is by a brother called Stuart Chase who is also a elder at my church you can read from him over at deformed.co.za

An ancient Christmas: The seed

Every December, we are reminded that a good segment of the wider Christian community vociferously objects to the celebration of Christmas. They point out that the birth of Christ is nowhere celebrated in the Bible or in early Christian literature. They argue that Jesus was demonstrably not born in late December. But the proverbial cherry on their argumentative cake is the undeniable historical fact that, long before it was celebrated as Christmas, 25 December was observed by pagans as Saturnalia (a festival in honour of Saturn) and Sol Invictus (the birthday of the sun god Mithras). It was not until the fourth century that Christians started celebrating the day in honour of Christ’s birth, and only in the sixth century was Christmas officially recognised as a Christian holiday.

The argument is that Christmas has clear pagan roots (much like Halloween), and should therefore not be celebrated by Christians.

The truth of the matter, however, is that Christmas has far deeper and far more ancient roots than Saturnalia or Sol Invictus. To be sure, December is quite clearly not the month in which Jesus was born, but the promise of Christmas was, nevertheless, humanity’s earliest hope. Prophecies of the incarnation are scattered throughout the Old Testament.

The earliest prophecy of Christmas was given at the dawn of human history, and is recorded in Genesis 3. God had created Adam and Eve and placed them in a garden, filled with everything they needed. He gave only one restriction: Do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They disobeyed, and so the human race—and the entire creation—came under a divine curse. But that very curse became the basis for the promise of the incarnation.

When God confronted Adam and Eve because of their sin, he pronounced a curse on all three parties involved in the fall: the serpent (Satan), the woman (Eve), and the man (Adam). It is in the serpent’s curse that the first promise of Christmas is found.

The reason for the incarnation

“So the LORD God said to the serpent: ‘Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life’” (Genesis 3:14). This verse tells us why the promise of Christmas was necessary: because of the curse. All creation was cursed, but the serpent was cursed “more than” the rest of God’s creation.

The serpent’s curse is instructive for the Christmas promise. The emphasis of the serpent’s curse is not “on your belly,” but “you shall eat dust.” Eating dust is symbolic in Scripture of utter defeat (Micah 7:15–17). So thorough would the serpent’s defeat be that he is seen eating dust even in the restored creation (Isaiah 65:17–25). Unlike the rest of creation, the serpent’s curse was total and irreversible.

The revelation of the incarnation

But the text goes on to enumerate the means by which this total defeat would take place: “And I will enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Here is the first revelation of Christmas.

The identity of “the Seed” is somewhat cryptic here, and certainly Adam and Eve did not know who the promised Seed was. The New Testament applies the language of crushing the serpent to Jesus Christ (Romans 16:20). But while the Genesis text doesn’t give a great deal of detail on the identity of the Seed, there are some significant features.

First, the Seed would be the Seed of the woman. This is significant in the Bible, which tends to identify people as the seed of their father. There is, perhaps, a hint of the virgin birth here: that the Seed would have no earthly father, but would instead be the Seed of the woman.

Second, the Seed would wage war against the serpent. We see this in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry. At one point, Jesus portrayed himself as entering a strong man’s house and plundering it. The strong man, in that context, was Satan. When he came to earth, Jesus took the war to the forces of darkness. In fact, it was his victory in that war that served as proof that the kingdom of God had come (Matthew 12:25–30).

Third, the Seed would be severely wounded in the battle. The serpent would strike the Seed’s heel, resulting in fatal injury. This was indeed fulfilled when Christ died on the cross. The wound that he suffered was death. His death was because of sin—not his own sin, to be sure, but the sin of those whom he came to save. The war waged against the forces of darkness cost him his life.

Fourth, the Seed would triumph. His heel would be crushed—but in the process he would crush the serpent’s head. This brings us to the final consideration.

The result of the incarnation

The promise of Christmas is a promise of victory: “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). At the very moment in which he believed he was victorious—the moment he struck the Seed’s heel—the serpent would suffer defeat. The curse would be turned into eternal blessing. The Seed would prove victorious, crushing the work of the devil. Yes, he would suffer great loss in the process, but in the end he would emerge the victor.

Of course, Christ’s victory over Satan was accomplished at the cross, not in the manger. It was at the cross, when he died, that Satan struck Christ’s heel. Victory cost Jesus his life—but only temporarily. The resurrection proved to be the decisive act. In the resurrection, Christ displayed his victory. The power of Satan had been trampled underfoot. The victory was won at Calvary.

But, of course, victory at Calvary would have been impossible apart from birth in Bethlehem. In order for the Seed of the woman to attain victory, he had to first be born. And ever since the promise of victory in the garden, humanity anticipated the coming of the Seed who would crush the head of the serpent.

For centuries following the fall, Jewish women lived in hope that they would be the one to bear the promised Seed. As history marched on, and the curse continued to weigh down on humanity, and the war between the woman’s seed and the serpent’s seed continued to rage, the only hope of victory was the anticipated Seed.

And then one day, in an obscure village in first century Palestine, a peasant girl heard these glorious words:

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call his name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end…. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”

(Luke 1:30–33, 35)

The twenty-fifth of December may have been celebrated by pagans long before it was celebrated by Christians, but the promise of Christmas is far more ancient than Saturnalia or the fabled birth of Mithras. The promise of Christmas stretches back to the dawn of time. And apart from Christmas—apart from the incarnation of the promised Seed—the victory of Easter would be impossible.

Advent: 18 December

Luke 2:25-35

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.

And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,

Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” 

Advent: 17 December

Jesus came into the world with the purpose of being our sacrifice. He was as a lamb, led to the slaughter. (John 1:29-36)

Click the image to listen to a amazing song about this concept.

Like a Lamb led to slaughter

Click me to hear a song!

Advent: 16 December

Jesus said in John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Jesus came so that we may have life and have it abundantly. Christ came into the world, in a manager that WE could have life. Now that statement is pretty familiar to us and has been misused by some, but let me make this connection for you today.

Jesus coming into the world as a newborn baby meant we would have new life. His earthly life beginning meant that the power of death was soon to be defeated. Christ’s coming abolished death (2 Timothy 1:10). Death’s days were numbered when Christ was born and not only that but new life would be possible through him for all who believe.

This time of year is when we consider that Jesus came into this world to have victory over death. The penalty of our sin which is death and separation from God. Was to be replaced with life, abundant life which meant forgiveness of our sin and our relationship with God being restored. That is why Christ came into the world. To bring everlasting life.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? ”The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Advent: 14 December

Christmas is family time. Normally. If you have been following along so far you will remember that I spoke about being excited for Christmas and enjoying those large lunches with family. Those were great. But as I have mentioned there came a time when the true meaning of Christmas became apparent to me and as that happened I really desired to spend the day reflecting on that, the lunches did not do that. Don’t get me wrong the meals were good, and I enjoy the time I spend with my family but we weren’t on the same page in this regard.

I wasn’t the only one in my group that felt this way. There was a group of us, saved out of families that didn’t see Christ as worthy. One Christmas we decided that we should just have dinner together. It was that day, many years ago that a tradition was started. We would have lunches with our family and then we would meet for dinner as the family of Christ for dinner. Ok it was more of a light meal / desert time since we would normally be really full from our lunches but it was a sweet time together (pun kinda intended).

This was a time we would just fellowship with one another as believers. We could reflect on what the day truly meant and we could just have clean fun together. Since that first year we have tried to to keep that tradition because we see the value of spending that time together and spending time with others that understood the reason for the season.

As you make plans for your Christmas day this year, once you have attended church to worship, ask yourself how will you be spending the day? Be intentional on spending the day with others that understand why it is a significant day.

Advent: 13 December

At this point in time you may have already heard or asked the question; “What do you want for Christmas?”. Well if you are anything like me that could be one really long and expensive list of things. My wish list is really long. But as I consider that question I have tried to flip it and ask the question; “What would I want other to have for Christmas?”. That list could also be rather long, there is a good deal of need around us. But I have boiled it down to one thing that I would want for myself and others. That one thing is to treasure Jesus Christ and give him the glory.

When all things are unwrapped this year and all the ‘thank you’s” and ‘you shouldn’t have’s’ have been said I want to be thankful for the greatest gift of Christ my saviour. I want to praise him as I remember what this day is supposed to represent. This season should be a time that we reflect on Christ’s love for us and grow in our love for him. So that is what I want for myself and for others to experience this year. A moment of reflection as I remember what this day is supposed to represent. Last year I shared an article called “What does Jesus want for Christmas” by desiring God with a similar theme which helps to drive this point home. Enjoy.

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