Pastor Andrew Murray

From of Old – Preparation

 

John 17:1-5

“When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.’”

Introduction:

Advent HopeLast week we began an Advent series intended to help us mark, remember, and consider the coming of our Savior.

Just as Israel misunderstood their true need, so Israel also misunderstood who it was who would be their Savior. They were expecting a political leader who would bring an earthly peace and so of course they expected a man, a descendant of David, chosen by God, but the nation of Israel was not expecting the One who came.

I believe that just as it is easy for us to fall into the same error as Israel regarding our main problem, so also we can easily fail to recognize who this Offspring of Eve, this Descendent of David, this Ruler from Bethlehem really is.

In this message I want to consider with you the person of Jesus Christ.

Why this Matters

When I was in high school an unbelieving friend of mine was taking a class on ancient literature, and the Bible made its way into the discussion of the class. In the course of conversation the teacher happened to explain some of his reasons for thinking that the Christian faith was without foundation. And so my unbelieving friend came to me with these reasons. Honestly I cant remember many of the questions. What I do recall clearly was that I was unprepared to answer one question that I should have been able to answer. I was not prepared in that high school hallway to answer this question: Did Jesus Himself ever claim to be God?

There are certain unbelieving assumptions about the Bible implied in that question which we will not unpack here. But, I was not prepared at that time to adequately answer the question.

It is not my intention this morning to give you mountains of evidence from the Old and New Testaments regarding the person of Christ – though it is there. I share this story with you simply to ask you this, Do you know who Christ is and can you give an answer for the hope that you have in Him?

This message is intended to whet our appetite to seek out who this Jesus Christ is as we prepare to celebrate His birth this Christmas. This is important. Let us be students of the Word.

Old Testament Anticipation

Id like to begin by laying down a bit of OT anticipation.

The prophet Isaiah calls Israel out for their grievous sin.

Isaiah 1:4

Ah, sinful nation,

a people laden with iniquity,

offspring of evildoers,

children who deal corruptly!

They have forsaken the Lord,

God will bring judgement against this sinful rebellious nation:

Isaiah 3:1, 16, 24-26

(1)For behold, the Lord God of hosts

is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah

support and supply

(16)The Lord said:

Because the daughters of Zion are haughty

(24)Instead of perfume there will be rottenness;

and instead of a belt, a rope;

and instead of well- set hair, baldness;

and instead of a rich robe, a skirt of sackcloth;

and branding instead of beauty.

Your men shall fall by the sword

and your mighty men in battle.

And her gates shall lament and mourn;

empty, she shall sit on the ground.

Israel forsook the Lord and brought upon her self the curses of the law. And yet God, the one true God, gives hope to the offspring of Abraham, promising One who would come to save His people.

Isaiah 9:6-7

For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and of peace

there will be no end,

on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

to establish it and to uphold it

with justice and with righteousness

from this time forth and forevermore.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Isaiah 42:1

Behold my servant, whom I uphold,

my chosen, in whom my soul delights;

I have put my Spirit upon him;

he will bring forth justice to the nations.

Who was it that came and brought an end to the power of the law to condemn and curse Gods people and who was it of whom it could be said that the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end? Who is this chosen servant in whom God Himself delights? and on whom God has put His Spirit?

Do we know who Jesus is?

Jesus, Son of God.

The Gospel of Mark

In order to get an idea of who the NT writers believed Jesus to be I want to run through the gospel of Mark highlighting some of the things Jesus did. Mark is making a point in his gospel about who Jesus is (these references will be available if you want them):

  • First, Mark 1:9-11 -The Spirit descended upon Jesus and the Father said, this is my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.The gospel starts with this declaration, highlighting the fulfillment of the OT messianic expectation (Isaiah 42:1).
  • Mark 1:25-26 – Jesus has power over unclean spirits.
  • Mark 1:40-42 – Jesus touches the unclean and instead of becoming unclean Himself, they become clean.
  • Mark 2:4-12 – Jesus has power to know the hearts of men, power to heal the lame, and power to forgive sins. “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
    .
  • Mark 4:35-41 – Jesus has power over the wind and waves. “Who is this that even the wind and waves obey him?”
  • Mark 5:35-43 – Jesus has power to raise the dead.
  • Mark 6:38-44 – Jesus has power to feed five thousand with five loaves and two fish.
  • Mark 6:49 – Jesus has power to walk on water.
  • Mark 8:25 – Jesus has power to heal the blind.
  • Mark 9:2-13 – Jesus is transfigured before Peter and James and John, Moses and Elijah appear talking to Jesus and then a voice came out of the cloud saying, This is my beloved Son; listen to him.
  • Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34 – Jesus has power to accurately foretell his own death and resurrection.
  • Mark 14:30 – Jesus has power to accurately foretell Peters betrayal.
  • Mark 14:61-62 – Jesus claims a place in glory at the right hand of the Almighty.
  • Mark 16:6-7 – Jesus has power over death in His own resurrection.

Mark is making a point. Who is this Offspring and Ruler who was born in Bethlehem? Who is this? He can tell unclean spirits what to do, he can touch the unclean and make them clean, He can give sight to the blind, He can feed five thousand, He can calm the storm, He can walk on water, He can heal the lame, He can see into the hearts of men, He can forgive sins! This my beloved Son.

The Gospel of John

As we began this morning I read from the gospel of John 17:1-5. Let me read you some of the incredible statements that Jesus makes from the gospel of John and ask yourself who could make these statements.

  • John 6:35 “I am the Bread of Life”
    .
  • John 8:12 I am the Light of the World
  • John 8:58 I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.
  • John 10:7 I am the Door of the Sheep
  • John 10:11 I am the Good Shepherd
  • John 11:25 I am the Resurrection and the Life
  • John 14:6 I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life
  • John 15:1 I am the Vine
  • John 16:28 I came from the Father and have come into the world
  • John 16:33 I have overcome the world.
  • John 17:2 (the Father gave me) authority over all flesh, to give eternal life
  • John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God and Jesus Christ [referring to himself: eternal life is knowing God and me] whom you have sent.
  • John 17:5 Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

There is no question that the man we find in the gospels called Jesus understood Himself at the very center of life, as the life giver, the Good Shepherd of Gods sheep, the light of the World! Who can claim the things Jesus claimed? Jesus claimed to preexist his birth in Bethlehem and He claimed to preexist Abraham (John 8:58) and He claimed to have been glorified in the presence of the God Almighty before the world ever existed (John 17:5)! He claimed to be Gods one and only unique Son, sent into the world that the world might believe on Him and live (John 3:16-17).

Who is this born in Bethlehem?

God is Three in One

If we know our church history we know that the faith once for all delivered to the saints has needed defending in different ways at different times. Some skeptics claim that the theology of the church has developed over time and that the church today holds to things that the early church knew nothing about.

Well that is misleading, because in one sense, of course it is true that the church has had to focus on certain doctrines at certain times because of the particular attack of the times. And so the church has rightly seen the need to more fully articulate specific doctrines in order to guard against specific errors. So there were indeed times when the saints hammered out precise definitions and statements of particular doctrines which at other times had not been the focus. But the once for all faith has not changed. The Scriptures are our authority from which the doctrine of our faith must be formed.

Some have claimed that the doctrine of the Trinity was a later development in the church, that the apostles and early church fathers did not know anything of this doctrine. Well, while it is true that when the truth of Gods word collided with various errors at different times, the church was required to hammer out, articulate and defend the doctrine of the Trinity, but it is quite wrong to think that the truth of the Trinity was some later invention. Its origin in the Scriptures themselves.

The doctrine of the Trinity grows out of two clear biblical truths. First, that God is one, as the OT again and again affirms.

Duet 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

Duet 6:13-15 It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around youfor the Lord your God, in your midst, is a jealous God

God is one. And yet that affirmation is not the all of what God has revealed about Himself. There is a second clear biblical truth. It was not until the coming of Christ and the NT that the depths and complexity of who God is was fully revealed.

In the NT three actors are clearly on the scene: the Father, Son, and Spirit …and each of these persons is described in the NT with attributes that belong to God alone. Each of these persons is described as possessing attributes that only the one true God of the OT possesses.

The NT ascribes to the Son attributes which belong to God alone.

And so, We must reckon with these two biblical facts: 1. God is one God and there is no other, and 2. the NT ascribes to the Father, Son, and Spirit attributes that belong to God alone.

So what we know from the added light of the NT is that God exists in three distinct eternal persons, namely the Father, Son, and Spirit, with perfect fellowship and joy and unity of purpose. The NT forces us to reckon with the biblical declaration that God is one and that God is Father, Son and Spirit.

And so there is one true God and yet the Father, Son, and Spirit each have a self-knowledge district from the others and a knowledge of the others as distant from Himself. The God revealed in the NT is not one person wearing three different masks or simply performing three different functions. Nor is it right to say that there are three gods.

There is only one true God existing for all eternity in three distinct persons who possess a perfect love and unity within the God-head. Even as each person in the Godhead is fully God, we see that the Son understands Himself in relation to Father as the Father (Matthew 11:27) and to the Spirit as the Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26).

The Son is not the Father or the Spirit.

But as soon as we consider the Son we must consider the Son as the Son of the Father. We cannot divide the three into three gods, neither can we collapse the three into one person. There is only one true God – existing eternally in three distinct persons who relate to one another as Father, Son, and Spirit.

So, who was the Offspring and Ruler who has come?

The God-Man Took on Flesh

If we care to honestly deal with the NT Scriptures we are forced to conclude that Jesus Christ is in fact the second person of the triune God with us.

Id like to read to you from John chapter 1 so that we better understand what was going on in Bethlehem.

John 1:1-18

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it(9)The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (14)And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, This was he of whom I said, He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me. ’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

There is so much here, but focus in on verse 14. The Word, or as the second part of the verse says, the only Son from the Father, became flesh and dwelt among us. This is what we call the incarnation, when the only Son from the Father took on a true human nature and body. God the Son has not existed through eternity as a man, but He took on flesh “…when the fullness of time had come…” (Gal 4:4). The One we see lying in a manger in Bethlehem is the eternal Son, the Almighty, the Alpha and Omega, the Creator of all things, veiled in flesh.

Just as important as knowing the full Deity of Christ, is knowing the full humanity of Christ. The Word took unto Himself a true human nature and dwelt among us. One Person in two natures. Fully God and Fully man.

Not Sinful Flesh

Listen to Romans 8:3 and 4

“…God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

The Father sent forth His Only Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. The Offspring of Eve, the promised Ruler whose coming forth was from of old is not a sinner. He took on true humanity but was not Himself sinful.

Listen to Luke 1:35

And the angel answered her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holythe Son of God.’”

Notice that Jesus is called Holy and the Son of God by virtue of the fact that the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and supernaturally generated this human offspring. The Virgin Birth is a signal to the uniqueness and sinless nature of this Child born in Bethlehem. Yes He was born of a woman, but He was conceived of the Holy Spirit without sin, Holy – Son of God.

Fully God and Fully Man Forever

Matthew 1:23 quotes Isaiah 7:14 saying,

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (which means God with us).

At the incarnation the second person of the Godhead took on flesh and dwelt among us, to save us from our sin. But listen to Isaiah 9:6 and 7 and note the incredible forever implications of these verses:

For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and of peace

there will be no end,

on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

to establish it and to uphold it

with justice and with righteousness

from this time forth and forevermore.

Yes, this passage is a glorious testimony to the One who would come, a human child born and the One called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, but notice also that we are told that the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end! He will sit on the throne of David and reign over his kingdom, to establish it and uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time forth and forevermore! The Son of God did not take on flesh for a few years only to take it off again. Gods plan to save the ruined race of men involved the eternal, beloved, only Son from the Father taking on true humanity forever!

Conclusion: Only the God-man could be the Savior

Listen to Hebrews 7:23-28

The former priests [of the old covenant] were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood [that is the only Son from the Father in the New Covenant] permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

We needed more than a great moral teacher or a great moral example. Our greatest need is not external, physical, earthly or political. Our greatest need is a Savior who is both God and flesh, One who can save us to the uttermost. Our need was such that He had to be fully God and fully man.

The first message in this series we were reminded of our great need for salvation, not a physical, external, earthly, or political salvation, but a salvation from our true and greatest enemy which is our own sinfulness. And God gave Hope for a Savior, who would save us from our sins.

This time we considered briefly who this Savior is, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Do we know what was required to save you soul? He is indeed the Offspring of the woman promised in Genesis 3:15. And He is Mighty God. As we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior we need to pause and consider the Person who was born in Bethlehem, the Offspring of Eve, the Ruler, who is our peace.

This Christmas let us consider Who it is in yonder stall. He was before Abraham. He existed before the world was created. He is from the Father, born of the Holy Spirit. Who is this that even the wind and waves obey Him? Who is this that can forgive sins? Who is this who now and forevermore can and will intercede for all who will draw near to God through His by means of His own blood in presence of God, thus securing an eternal redemption?

Who is this child?

“Veiled in flesh the God-head see; Hail th’incarnate Deity,

Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel.

Hark! the herald angels sing, Glory to the new-born King.”

– Charles Wesley

Ocome. Let us adore Him.

~ Andy

 

Andrew Murray

Andrew “Andy” Murray was born and raised in New Hampshire. His father, pastor Loren Murray, served Fellowship Bible Church in Chester, NH. At six years of age Andy trusted in Jesus Christ and was baptized. He was brought up “acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” At the age of 12 his father was in a fatal car accident. Reflecting on the loss of his dad Andy writes; “I see now the wise and loving hand of Christ in my life, as He used this event to, shape, mold and press me toward Himself. It was this event that sparked in me an earnest desire to know God from His Word. By His grace, this desire has continued to grow.” Andy met his wife, Elizabeth, at Philadelphia Biblical University (now Cairn University). They have four wonderful boys. Visit Windham Bible Chapel.

Share