Sunday Sermon: ‘The Message of Christmas’

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Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Two thousand years ago the most amazing thing that anyone could ever imagine occurred. God stepped away from His glory in order that He might come to this earth and live as a man. The angel told Joseph that the baby would be called ‘Emmanuel’ which means: “God with us.” While Jesus was here on earth, it was God living and walking with man.

Last week I shared a message with you which I entitled ‘The Miracle of Christmas.’ Today I want to speak to you on the subject – ‘The Message of Christmas.’ Today we’re going to focus – not on the ‘how’ of Jesus’ birth, but rather the ‘why.’ Why did God the Son come to this earth and become a man?

Look once again at verse 21 –

Matthew 1:21 … and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Today I want to share with you three important truths found in this verse of scripture.

I. Truth #1 – The Truth About Our Sin

A lot of people don’t like to hear the word ‘sin.’ A lot of preachers don’t like to preach about sin. To be honest, it’s not my favorite topic. I would much rather preach about something positive and happy. Yet I must preach about sin because sin is a reality in our lives. We see it every day in the world and it’s found throughout the pages of scripture. Look with me what the Apostle Paul wrote about sin in the book of Romans.

Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Perhaps the most troubling part of these verses is – “there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

The Bible says that no one is good. Some people struggle with that. They know certain people that they would consider to be good. If we compare people to people, we can say that some people are ‘good’, or at least ‘better than the others.’ But the good Paul is referring to is not the goodness of men, but rather the goodness of God. When we compare ourselves to God, the Bible says –

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

Though some of us may be better than others, we all fall short of God’s perfection. Jesus said that there is only one who truly does what is good, and that is God. (see Mark 10:18) Only God can be considered to be truly good because only God is truly perfect.

II. Truth #2 – The Truth About Our Salvation

Matthew 1:21 … and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Often in church we hear the words ‘saved’ or ‘salvation’ used a lot. What do these terms mean?

The word ‘salvation’ means to rescue from danger or destruction. The Bible says that the consequences of sin is death, both physical and spiritual. (see Romans 6:23) The Bible also says that the soul that sins shall surely die. (see Ezekiel 18:20)

We read from the book of Revelation –

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.  

Note – ‘the dead were judged according to their works.’ Each individual will be held accountable for how they had lived.

When the angel told Joseph that this child would save men from their sins, he meant that this child would save men from the punishment they deserve for their sins.

What is the punishment for our sins? It’s eternity in a lake of fire called hell.

Revelation 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Not everyone believes in a literal hell. Some see hell as only some sort of a symbol and not a real place. Others see hell as perhaps a temporary place of suffering people go to before they go the heaven. The reason they go to this hell is to be purified and prepared for heaven. Then there are others who say that hell is the complete annihilation of the wicked and that those who go to hell simply cease to exist.

It might surprise some to learn that Jesus spoke more about hell than any other person in the Bible. In reference to those who go to heaven and those who go to hell, Jesus said this –

Matthew 25:46 “…they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” BSB

The same word Jesus used for ‘eternal’ life He used for ‘eternal’ punishment. If hell is not a literal place of eternal punishment for those who aren’t saved, then heaven isn’t a literal place of eternal pleasure for those who are.

Some will try to argue the reality of hell by saying, “My God is too loving to send someone to hell.” The Bible teaches us that God is loving, kind, merciful and compassionate. Yet the Bible also teaches us that God is: holy, just, pure and righteous.

Here’s the big question that has to be answered – “How can God, who is holy, just and pure, receive into heaven those who are sinful?” How can perfection coexist with imperfection? How can good co-exist with evil? How can light coexist with darkness?

The biblical term for this is ‘justification.’ Justification is one of those big biblical words that can scare a lot of people off. What does the word ‘justification’ or to be ‘justified’ mean?

Perhaps the simplest definition of justification would be –  ‘legal grounds.’ If I asked you, “What justification do you have for doing something?”, I would be asking you – “What are your legal grounds for doing this? What justifies you to do that?

So what justifies God to allow some people into heaven, while not allowing others? That’s the big question that divides all the religions of the world. Most religions teach that man must do something to earn his position of justification before God. Only Christianity teaches that God has done something for us.

1.  We Must Do Something to Earn Favor With God

Many view their relationship with God like a big scale where their good deeds are placed on one side and their bad deeds are placed on the other. In their opinion, as long as their good outweighs their bad, they get to go to heaven.

There are two great problems with that theory:

a. No one can actually obey God’s standards

We’ve already seen that our good isn’t as good as we might think it is. Our good is only better than others. It’s not good the way God defines good. God defines good as perfection.

If someone could obey the standard of God completely, then they would be acceptable before God. But because we can’t, there’s always a blemish on our record.

b. There’s no way for us to remove the sins we’ve already committed

There’s no way for us to undo what we’ve done. There’s no way for us to cleanse our record. At the end of time when man stands before God, he will still be declared guilty before God because there’s still a record on his sin.

Romans 3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

What is Paul telling us in these verses? Let’s suppose someone stood before God and tried to give reasons why they should be permitted into heaven. “I did this and this, and I didn’t do that.” To most of us, that would be good enough. But then God would pull out His perfect standard and say, “OK, let’s examine your life by My standards.” What would happen? Paul tells us that at least two important things would happen:

a. “Every mouth would be stopped”

Every attempt to make an excuse would be silenced. No one will be able to say, “But…”

b. “All the world would be found guilty”

Thou shalt not steal.” Have you ever taken anything that wasn’t actually yours? Then you are guilty of sinning against God.

“Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Have you ever exaggerated and said something that wasn’t completely true about another person? Then you are guilty of sinning against God.

“Honor thy father and mother.” Did you always do what your mother and father told you to do? Then you are guilty of sinning against God.

“Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Did you ever have an impure thought about another person? Then you are guilty of sinning against God.

The revealing of God’s standard wouldn’t justify us. It would only condemn us. Rules don’t make us better. They only reveal where we are wrong.

2. God Provides a Way for Us to be Legally Justified in His Sight

Most religions teach that man must do something to earn his position of justification before God. Only Christianity teaches that God has done something for us.

III. Truth #3 – The Truth About Our Savior

Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

A. The Righteousness God Offers to Us

The righteousness God offers to us is not something that we deserve. Salvation is a free gift from God.

B. How is God Able to Offer to Us His Righteousness?

Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood…

1. Offered because God is gracious

God doesn’t owe us salvation. He doesn’t owe us forgiveness. No man is living in such a way that God is indebted to him. Salvation is a gift of God’s grace. What is grace? The word grace simply means – “unmerited favor.”

2. Offered because God sent His Son to be our Savior

Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood…

The angel said to Joseph, “… and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.’ Matthew 1:21

What does the name ‘Jesus’ mean? It means: Jehovah (God) is salvation. Salvation and forgiveness of sin is not something that we can earn. It is a free gift given to us because Jesus Christ came to this world to die for our sins.

Jesus said-

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

CONCLUSION

Have you ever received God’s free gift of salvation? Have you ever come to the point of recognizing that you are sinful and not worthy of entering into heaven? Have you ever realized that Jesus is God’s Son, sent to this earth to be our Savior? Have you ever prayed and asked for His forgiveness?

If not, God has a wonderful Christmas gift waiting for you. Won’t you come and receive God’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life today?

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Sermon Outline

Matthew 1:18-25

I. The Truth About Our Sin

A. Sin is not a popular subject

B. Reality of Sin        Romans 3:10-12

1. None that doeth good, no not one

2. Some better than others, but none as good as God     Mark 10:18

3. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory     Romans 3:23

II. The Truth About Our Salvation

A. What does the term ‘salvation’ mean?  (to be rescued from danger or destruction)

B. What is the destruction that we are in danger  of?      Revelation 20:11-15

C. Is hell a literal place of eternal punishment?  Matthew 25:46

1. The same word that is used for – life eternal

2. Is the same word used for – ‘everlasting punishment’

3. If hell is not a literal place of eternal punishment, then heaven is not a place of eternal enjoyment

D. “My God is too loving to send someone to hell.”

1. God is good, loving, kind and merciful

2. God is also just, holy and pure

E. Big question all must answer – “How can a God is holy and pure, justly allow sinful people to spend eternity in heaven?”

1. Some believe that we must somehow earn favor with God   Romans 3:20

2. The Bible teaches that salvation and forgiveness of sin is freely given by God’s grace   Romans 3:24

III. The Truth About Our Savior

A. God Offers a Righteousness Apart from Our Good Deeds  Romans 3:21-22

B. How Can God Justly Offer Us Such a Righteousness?   Romans 3:24

1. Because God Has Chosen to be Gracious

2. Because Jesus Came to Die for Our Sins

CONCLUSION

The Greatest Christmas Gift Anyone Has Ever Given  John 3:16-17

 

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