Since services had to be cancelled today due to inclement weather, I thought I might as well post the manuscript for the first message in the sermon series, "Why Jesus? Why Advent?" So, here it is:
Why Jesus? Why a Savior?
Jessica was pregnant with Bella. We had just returned home from eating out with her parents after church for Father’s Day. She had ordered her usual blue cheese with her salad. Apparently, usual bleu cheese did not agree with unusually pregnant Jessica. After she went looking and yelling for Ralph in the restroom at the restaurant, we headed home. Ronnie & Carol, Jess’s parents graciously took Zeke and Yana home for a bit, with the intention of meeting back up with us later on at her sister’s home.
We arrived home and promptly medicated Jess. She laid down for a while, which helped the nausea. She got up just in time to head over to her sister’s house for the Father’s Day festivities. We jumped in the car, our Chevy Blazer, and pulled out of the driveway...
Actually, we only made it to the end of the driveway. As I pressed the gas to leave the driveway, pass through the bridal path, and enter into Southern Parkway, the car died. I tried to start it. Dead. Dead as a doornail, as my dad used to say. One last try to start it – No crank. Dead. Suddenly, smoke began to billow out from under the hood. Not a little. A LOT! I sprang from the driver’s seat and popped open the hood. Not only was there a lot of smoke, but flames! The Blazer was blazing! Pregnant Jess ran to the house to get a bucket of water. I stood by the Blazer and called 911. As I spoke to the 911 operator, a heating & cooling repair van pulled up. Out jumped two guys, one with a fire extinguisher in hand. He sprayed under the hood of the Blazer, and gone were the flames.
He had saved the day. And, boy, did I need my day saved! My car was not only dead; it was being destroyed, until the savior with an extinguisher appeared on the scene.
Advent is a time when we celebrate the coming of the Savior. Much will be said this season about the various attributes of God manifested in the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of these characteristics are even celebrated in the lighting of our Advent candles. Hope. Peace. Joy. Love. And we should celebrate these attributes of our Savior...
BUT, what does it mean when we say that during Advent and Christmas we celebrate the coming of the Savior? What did He come to save me from? Why do I need to be saved by someone else? Why can’t I just save myself? How does Jesus saving me bring hope, peace, or joy? What does it mean that God is love? How did He show us that love?
Why Jesus? Why a Savior?
Dr. John Piper said: “The more keenly we feel our need for a Savior, the more precious will be the coming of the Savior.”
If we are really going to understand and have joy in the Advent of the Savior, we must understand, either for the first time or in a fresh way, a few key things...
- The Problem - The Fall & Original Sin
We all have a problem. Well, actually, we all have several problems. Some of you don’t feel well today. Some of you have body odor. Some of you are dealing with some major struggles right now. So, we all have several problems. BUT, these several problems are actually a result of the one common problem that we all have... SIN.
Romans 5: 12-21 says, Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The fact is that Adam and Eve sinned, and through the sin of these our first parents, we all became heirs of that sin. It is cute when your children inherit your eyes. I want my little girls to grow up to show they have inherited things from Jessica. It is not so cute that we have all inherited the sin of Adam. As a matter of fact, it is deadly. You were born in sin. I was born in sin. It is in my very nature because of the Fall of Adam & Eve in the garden. Because of the Fall and the original sin by Adam, we all have inherited this original sin – We are born in sin, separated by it from the God whom we were created to worship.
- Personal Sin - You sin because you are a sinner
Romans 3: 23 says, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Why do we all sin? We are sinners. Why do we all fall short of God’s glorious standard? We are unable to achieve it because of our condition.
Ephesians 2: 1 – 3 says, And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
As sinners apart from Christ and His filling of the Holy Spirit, we follow our hearts. But isn’t that what you are supposed to do – Follow your heart?
Jeremiah 17: 9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Or to paraphrase it another way – “The heart of man is deceptive and wicked; Who know how bad it really is?”
You and I, everyone, are born in sin. This sin causes us to be spiritually dead, making decisions in accordance with our spiritually dead mindset. Apart from Christ, we are sons of disobedience and children of wrath, behaving as the very enemies of God. Why? Without Christ, we behave as His enemies because we are.
- The Predicament – Your Sin Keeps You Spiritually Dead
In my illustration at the beginning of the message, I was in need of a savior from the destruction being caused by the fire, which was prompted by the essential death of my Blazer. Many in contemporary church culture view Jesus as the same type of Savior – one who will save them from their destruction, but who leaves the dead spirit intact to do as he or she pleases. To those who believe that Jesus is someone you claim via confirmation or walking an aisle, all the while living an unchanged life, I give you warning that the first Advent of Christ did not involve simply a fire extinguisher. Jesus is not selling fire insurance. He did not come simply to save you from the fires of Hell, though surely that is some of it.
Since you have been born in sin, and because of that you continue to sin, you are in a predicament apart from Christ. YOU ARE DEAD.
Dr. Piper says, “The reason we need a Savior is not that we are in the doghouse with God and need to be forgiven for offending His glory. We need a Savior because we are in the morgue.”
Your problem is that, apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, you are dead. Dead. Like my car in the story, unable to crank. Unable to decide to do right, at least for the right reasons. Not inclined to do anything to the glory of God. Not persuaded by natural means to trust and obey the Lord. Dead. In the spiritual morgue.
- The Punishment - The wages of sin are death & separation from God
And to worsen the pot, the very sin which dwells in you, causing you to remain dead, will keep you separated from God... For eternity. Dead for eternity in your sin, separated from God.
The first part of Romans 6: 23 says, “The wages of sin is death...”
Spiritually speaking, I was dead. Without a Savior, I had no spiritual inclinations at all. No life at all. No ability to even relate to or know God... At all. A holy and sinless God must reserve wrath for sin and unrepentant sinners, for the spiritually dead. His very being and character requires it. It is a basic philosophical premise:
§ If God is holy and He punishes sin
§ And you or I are unholy and have original and active sin,
§ God must punish us for our unholiness and our sin.
- The Price was Paid – By None Other Than the GREAT Savior!
And herein, beloved, is the Good News of Advent!!!
Romans 5:8 says, “and while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
God demonstrated His great love for us by opting to break into the scene and save us. He showed up in the nick of time. While we were without hope because of our sin; while we were without peace because of our iniquities; while we were without joy because of our transgressions; while we were unable to even experience real love because of our depravity...
Christ died in our place. Because of our unholiness and sin, we were once dead spiritually. Because of our sin and unholiness, we were destined to die for eternity in Hell. Because of our sin, we should have died, BUT God...
Ephesians 2: 4-9 says, But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
In His mercy, He has sent a Savior. Hallelujah for the Advent of Christ! In His Advent, we know that there is hope, peace, joy, and love because He came to save us. He came as a precious little baby, lived a sinless life, showed and taught us how to live, and then died that we might even have the opportunity to live. He took our sin upon Himself, receive our lashings from the Father for that sin, gave us His own righteousness instead of our sin. All that we might be SAVED and He might be glorified...
O follower of Christ, do you realize from whence you have come? Why Jesus? Why a Savior?
O man or woman, boy or girl, who has yet to receive Christ, do you see your need for a Savior from your sin? Why Jesus? Why a Savior?
Why Advent? The Savior came so that you might be rescued from your sin. So that you might avoid the destruction which flows from spiritual death. So that you might know your Creator. So that all honor and all glory will go to Him...
Mark H. pointed out to me just last night the depth of theology and understanding contained in one of our Christmas carols, O Come O Come Emmanuel, verse 2:
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
Have you received Jesus by faith? Have you been freed from the tyranny of Satan and sin? If so, rejoice in the Advent of Christ! If not, friend, you are already living in the depths of Hell by destiny and need rescuing.
Receive the Lord Jesus Christ today and be numbered among His own. If you have already, rejoice in your salvation!
Yes, Jesus! Yes, Advent! Yes... A Savior!