December 2018

From The Pastor's Heart

He came the first time as a tiny baby in a manger and set in motion this entire plan of redemption.

By Charles F. Stanley

The Christmas season is so full of activities that life often becomes rushed. Sometimes the celebrations are over before we have the time to stop and contemplate what it all means. The shopping, preparations, parties, and programs can leave us physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted.

So before we get too far into the holiday festivities, let’s pause and take a fresh look at this amazing event we call Christmas. Think of it as an invitation from God, delivered by His Son, offering salvation to mankind. It came wrapped in swaddling clothes instead of colorful wrapping paper and was laid in a manger rather than under a decorated Christmas tree. This tiny baby, who seemed so small and helpless, was the only one who could rescue sinful human beings from eternal destruction through a process called redemption.

To redeem means to buy something back. For instance, suppose you saw an old family heirloom in a pawn shop and recognized it as having once belonged to your grandfather. You’d immediately purchase it back to keep it in the family. In the same way, mankind was created by God in His image, but when Adam and Eve rebelled against Him and fell into sin, the entire human race became slaves of sin. Jesus said, “Everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (John 8:34).

What we need is a Redeemer who is able and willing to pay whatever price is required. But who determines the price? Since Adam and Eve broke God’s law, it is God who must receive the payment for mankind’s redemption. He clearly warned Adam and Eve that the penalty for eating of the forbidden tree would be not only physical death but spiritual death and eternal punishment. And God’s price for sin is sinless blood; “it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (Lev. 17:11 NIV).

The Redeemer had to be someone who could perfectly fulfill the law of God by living a sinless, obedient life, and He must be willing to pay the penalty by dying, receiving God’s wrath for the sins of fallen mankind, and shedding His perfect blood in payment for those sins. No mere human being could do this because we are all sinful, and we are not capable of enduring the wrath of God for everyone else.

But “the grace of God has appeared” in the incarnation (Titus 2:11). God the Son took on human flesh and came into the world as a baby. He was the only one who could redeem fallen mankind because He was fully God and fully human. He lived a perfect life and voluntarily went to the cross to pay the penalty for sin that we deserved.

God the Son took on human flesh and came into the world as a baby.

Now let’s consider what His redemption did for us, according to Titus 2:11-14. First of all, it brought pardon. “The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men” (v. 11). Since Jesus lived the perfect life we never could and paid the price of our redemption with His death, God can now offer forgiveness of sins to all who believe in His Son and trust in His sacrifice on their behalf.

Second, Christ’s redemption purifies us. Jesus “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people” (v. 14). God not only made us pure legally by imputing Christ’s righteousness to us, but He gave us His grace and His Spirit to help us “deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (v. 12). This is God’s intention for our lives. True salvation results in an increasingly pure life.

Third, Christ made us “a people for His own possession” (v. 14). When He bought us out of slavery to sin with His precious blood, we weren’t set free to do as we please; we became His beloved possession, and our joy and desire should be to obey and live for Him. Although we are now His slaves, we are also a part of God’s family and heirs with an inheritance waiting for us in heaven.

Fourth, Jesus redeemed us to be “zealous for good deeds” (v. 14). We aren’t simply to sit back and take it easy. The Christian life is one of service. We’re called to love and care for one another and proclaim the gospel to those who don’t know Christ as Savior and Lord. When Jesus ascended into heaven, He left us here to carry on His work, and when He returns, He will reward us.

Finally, there is a future redemption coming. Although our souls are redeemed, we still live in fallen fleshly bodies, and creation is still under a curse, but when Christ returns, all that will change. Creation will be set free from its bondage, and at the resurrection our bodies will be redeemed, forever free from sin and death (Rom. 8:18-23). But for now, we are “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13).

He came the first time as a tiny baby in a manger and set in motion this entire plan of redemption. Like the heirloom in the pawn shop, we were separated from our heavenly Father by our sin. But Jesus bought us back and reunited us to the Father. Now we have received the blessings of that redemption and the promise of a glorious future with Him.

Prayerfully yours,

Charles F. Stanley

P.S. All of us here at In Touch Ministries would like to wish you a very merry Christmas. May God’s gift of His Son enrich your spirit during this joyous season and throughout the coming year.


What happens to my notes

34 Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.

11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.'

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,

12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,

13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,

14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope

21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.

23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

BackgroundColor
Light
Aa
Dark
Aa
Font size:
A
A
A