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December 21, 2014 Bulletin

‘Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift’

2 Corinthians 9:15

“Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.’ The appearance of God in human flesh was the embodiment of the gospel. Surely nothing but good could result from the miraculous birth of the God-man. Well did the angels sing, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth good will toward men.’ As we now frequently meditate upon the incarnation and birth of Christ, we are compelled to employ the apostle’s language in our praise: ‘Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!’ For thy Son, O Lord, we cannot give thanks enough. Words cannot be formed which could express the gratitude of our hearts.

Jesus Christ is the gift of God. We had no claim upon him. We felt no need of him. We did not desire him. But, freely, out of his abundant love and grace, God gave us his Son. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.’ God the Father gave us his Son in the covenant of grace. He gave us his Son in his condescending incarnation. God gave at Mount Calvary. And God gave us his Son in the new birth. In giving us salvation and eternal life, God gave us Christ and all that he is, and all that he has done and all that he possesses. Christ is our salvation, our life and our all. And all who have him have him by the free gift of God.

As the gift of God, Jesus Christ is unspeakable. Who can describe the glorious Godhead and perfect humanity of Christ? The complex union of the God-man is a mystery beyond human understanding. We can only say, ‘Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh.’ Is there a man who can adequately explain the vicarious life of Christ to accomplish our righteousness, or his substitutionary redemption to purchase our pardon? No. We can only say, ‘Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.’

—Don Fortner

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 “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”                                                                                

Isaiah 7:14                  

On this prophecy hangs the hopes of fallen sinners. Had this word failed, we were all damned forever. Horror eternal awaited us. Hell eternal must have been our doom. God must be born a babe in time, or sinful man is for ever lost. But, oh my fellow sinners, all hail! I congratulate you. This day is this scripture fulfilled. This virgin hath conceived. This son, this Immanuel is born, God in our nature: God with us: God for us, we behold in JESUS. He says, ‘I was set up from everlasting,’ (as the covenant Head of my people) – ‘My delights were with the sons of men.” Pro. 8:23-31. Oh he hath shewn how he delighted over us, how he rested forever in his love to us. For he came to visit us in our flesh. ‘Verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but he became a babe in human flesh, a man in stature; born to save, lived to justify, died to redeem – who? fallen angels? No. They are left reserved in chains of darkness. But unto us sinners against God, us miserable apostates from God, in the very same desperate state as devils are: behold ‘unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given.’ That we who are filthy by birth, and polluted by nature, might have a holy birth, and a sanctified nature in Him. ‘The government is upon his shoulders.’ He is our King. He reigns over us, for us, and in us. Our souls, and all our concerns, are safe in his hands. ‘His name is WONDERFUL.’ In his conception, his birth, his person, God and man in one Christ, in his life, his death, his resurrection, ascension, and intercession, wonderful.  In his love to us, and salvation of us, wonderful. ‘COUNSELLOR.’ He powerfully pleads our cause above; he sweetly counsels our hearts below to come to him; so we find blessed rest in him. ‘THE MIGHTY GOD.’ No less could save us. Jesus is the God of our salvation. ‘THE EVERLASTING FATHER.’ He begets us to himself by the word of his grace. The most tender parent on earth never loved his children as Jesus loves us. ‘THE PRINCE OF PEACE.’ Isaiah 9:6. He is ever at peace with us, has made peace for us, bestows his peace on us.

“Oh ye sinners of the human race, if as verily as the virgin conceived and brought forth this son, your hearts conceive Jesus by faith, this will bring forth holy love to Jesus. The birth of Jesus is our delicious Christmas fare. Behold it, says the prophet; dwell on it in your minds, feed on it in your hearts. To conceive of our Lord becoming a babe, living in flesh for us, dying on the accursed tree, to take away our sins, and save our souls while we count all other hopes in vain, oh this makes us keep a joyful Christmas all the year round.  For this brings ‘glory to Glory in the highest, peace on earth, good will towards men. Luke 2:14

—William Mason 1719-1791

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          And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”                                                                            

(Luke 2:10-14)

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          This is the season of the year when, whether we wish it or not, we are compelled to think of the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas is celebrated all over this nation by believers, unbelievers, skeptics, agnostics and even infidels. I hold it to be one of the greatest absurdities under heaven to think that there is any religion in keeping Christmas or any other holiday. It is even doubtful that the Lord Jesus was born on Christmas day. A relationship with God is not based on keeping days, observing rituals, or continuing ceremonies. A relationship with God is based upon heart faith, loving obedience and personal knowledge of God.

However, I am thankful for the Christmas season for several reasons.

(1) There is enough work in this world and a few days of rest and relaxation is wonderful for working people.

(2) I enjoy the generous spirit of Christmas. I wish it could last all year. People laugh a lot during Christmas. We seem to be more aware of each other during this season.

(3) Christmas enables families to get together around the fireplace and to meet old friends again. Children come home and visit their parents.

(4) Christmas is good for the nation’s economy. Let’s face it, people spend money during the Christmas season and this enables the small businessman to make ends meet and the large businesses to employ more people. The way our economy operates, the quickest way to recession and unemployment is for us to quit buying.

(5) But the chief reason why I am thankful for the Christmas season is that, even with all of the undesirable qualities, at least once a year men and women are brought face to face with the fact that JESUS CHRIST THE LORD DID COME INTO THIS WORLD. Now, it is our business to find out who He was, why He came into the world, and what He did while He was here; and I might add, where He is now.

—Henry Mahan