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For more information and to connect with Russ Andrews and Finding Purpose, you can visit us online at findingpurpose.net or connect with us on Facebook. Now, let's listen to Russ Andrews as he teaches us how to be a Christian without being religious. I've entitled tonight's message, Who is Jesus? And we're going to camp out in Luke chapters 1 and 2. So, take your Bibles and turn there. Last week, we considered the idea that one of the reasons Christianity is a reasonable faith is because it rests upon fulfilled prophecy. Hopefully, you'll remember that I pointed to two key prophecies, Micah 5, 2 and Isaiah chapter 7, verse 14.
Micah 5, 2 says, But you, Bethlehem, Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. And then Isaiah 7, verse 14 says, Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a son. The virgin will be with child and give birth to a son, and you will call him what?
Emmanuel, which means God with us. Now, from these two prophecies, we learned two things. One, where the Messiah would be born, and we also learned the supernatural nature of His birth.
It would be of a virgin. But there's another major prophecy that I want to point you to right now that specifies the ancestral line from which the Messiah would come. And you have to find these prophecies absolutely amazing when you consider they were written.
This one was written 1000 years before the birth of Christ. It's found in 2 Samuel chapter 7, verse 11 through 13, which says, The Lord declares to you, now He's declaring this to King David, who's on the throne at this point, that the Lord Himself will establish a house for you. When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you who will come from your own body, and I will establish His kingdom. Now, we know that this first was fulfilled in Solomon, his son, and the nation of Israel reached its zenith under King Solomon, both power and prestige and even territory.
But notice this next verse. He says, This one that will succeed you will come from your own body. I will establish His kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of His kingdom for how long? Forever. Did Solomon's kingdom last forever?
No, it didn't. So here again, this prophecy was more than a thousand years before the birth of Christ, and it's telling us that the Messiah would come from the line of David, and His kingdom would be an everlasting kingdom. Thus, in Jesus' birth, we see the fulfillment of these three major prophecies, His place of birth, the supernatural nature of His birth, and the exact family line from which He would come. And that brings us, men, to Luke chapter 1. And here in Luke 1, we're going to focus.
I can't cover all four chapters tonight, otherwise we'd be here for a while. So we're just going to look at what I think is the most important part of what you had to read this week, and that really is the birth of Jesus. And so look at chapter 1 beginning with verse 26. Remember, Luke has written an orderly account.
He has interviewed eyewitnesses, and he's given us a historically accurate account that we can rest our faith upon. So beginning with verse 26, Luke writes, In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of who? David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, Greetings, you who are highly favored, the Lord is with you. Now it says that Mary was greatly troubled at His words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
You can imagine what she must have been thinking. But the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary. You have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord will give him, here it is again, the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever.
His kingdom will never end. And so Mary said, How will this be, since I am a virgin? And the angel answered, This explains how this virgin birth came about.
The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth, your relative, is going to have a child in her old age. And she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. Of course, we know that she was carrying John the Baptist. And then Luke writes, For nothing is impossible with God. And then Mary answered, I am the Lord's servant.
May it be to me as you have said, Don't you love her fate? Then the angel left her. And so in this text, we see two of these three major prophecies fulfilled. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin. It mentions that three times here in this text. And both Joseph and Mary both come from the line of King David.
But now we run into a problem. What town were they living in? Nazareth. Where's the Messiah supposed to be born? So how's God going to bring this about? That's right, Jeff.
Ever heard of a census? See, the Bible makes it clear. And guys, this is something that we should, should bring us great confidence. When you look at the world we live in, he is sovereign. He's control of everything. Jesus is sitting on the throne right this moment, controlling everything.
So we don't really have to worry about world events. So how is God going to cause his birth to take place in Bethlehem? Well, turn with me to Luke chapter two. Beginning with verse one. Again, Luke is recording this, the history here that we can go and look. You can go pick up a history book and read about the names of the men that are getting ready to be mentioned here.
And know that this is true. In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea to Bethlehem. Notice the town of David because he belonged to the house in line of David. He went there to register with Mary who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no guest room available for them. So here's the question. Why did Caesar Augustus all of a sudden, why did he decide to have a census?
And by the way, I understand that this was the first census that had been taken in the Roman, in Rome, in the history of Rome. So why did he all of a sudden decide to do this? I'll tell you why. Because God moved upon his heart and his mind to do it. God put this idea in his mind. God providentially moved history along which is what he's always doing.
The providence of God just means that he is moving history and world events like a chess player over chess board. He's moving the pieces around according to his divine purpose and will. And one day he's going to call checkmate. And we'll know that happens when the clouds part and there's Jesus. And I'm looking forward to that day. Proverbs 21 one says, the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord.
And he directs it like a water course wherever he pleases. So what can we apply to our lives from this? Well, the first thing I know, I've already mentioned this. When you see the world in such chaos and turmoil, we should not go to bed fretting at night. Because Jesus is on the throne. But this also points to one of the great blessings, men, of being a follower of Jesus. When you turn your life over to Jesus, what you're doing is if you can imagine your life is represented by the car or the truck you drive every day. And you've got your hands on the steering wheel and that's your life represented there. You say, Lord, I'm going to take my hands off the steering wheel. And you put your hands on the steering wheel and you guide my life in the direction you want it to go.
And he will. But you have to believe that first. So let me ask you, do you come here tonight needing some direction? Are you going through something difficult, maybe a job situation or maybe a difficulty in your marriage or something to do with your finances or a particular relationship?
If you're not having a difficult trial right now, just wait because one's coming. So how would you like to know that God will direct you through the storms of life and bring you to the end of your life safe and secure in him? In Luke chapter two, we see the hand of God at work as God moved upon the mind and heart of Caesar Augustus and he issued a decree calling for a census. Thus, Joseph, whose ancestral tribe lived in Bethlehem, that's considered the town of David. He had to go there to register. And it just so happens that when he went there, Mary was in her ninth month.
Thus, Jesus was born in the little town of Bethlehem according to the word of the Lord. And I would ask you tonight, does that not give you confidence in the word of God? That if he says it in here, it's going to happen.
It is. I've staked my life on it. I believe every word in that book.
And if you find something that hadn't been fulfilled yet, that means it's going to be fulfilled. And you can trust the promises of God. Now look at verses eight through twelve. Luke writes, And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, just like he did to to Mary, Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. And then right here, verse 11 is the key verse I want to talk about tonight. Look at verse 11 today in the town of David, a savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord. And this will be the sign to you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger. Verse 11 records the greatest proclamation ever made in the history of the world.
Look at what it says. Today, in the town of David, a savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord.
And this is what I want to camp out on the rest of tonight. Who exactly is Jesus? Well, according to verse 11, he is the savior. He is the Messiah.
And he is the Lord. By the way, these are all three different and meaningful titles explaining who Jesus is. Savior, Messiah and Lord.
So let's look at each one of these separately. First, Jesus is the savior. It's important to note that Jesus's name actually means the Lord is salvation. So it just means Jesus saves. Just think of savior. When you hear the word Jesus, think of the word savior. And this gets to the very heart of Jesus. And this was what I love about Jesus. Jesus came into the world for one reason. To save sinners. Who are these sinners? Everyone. All of us.
No exceptions. And listen, everyone who's ever been born is in need of the savior even those who don't realize it. Because we're all sinners. I was watching the news Sunday morning because it was September the 11th. And they were reviewing and showing scenes, you know, from when the twin towers were attacked back in 2001.
And I'm just still amazed when I watch these two buildings that are two of the tallest buildings ever built in the history of the world. And within just a matter of a few hours they both collapsed. And when they collapsed, this cloud of smoke just comes funneling down through all the buildings. And it's just all of a sudden everybody's panicking and running. But if that cloud catches up with you, all of a sudden you're encompassed in darkness. And I was sitting there watching this and all of a sudden you could hear a woman crying out, I can't breathe anymore.
Save me. I thought, man, that's a picture of the world we live in. We live in a world, man, that is dark, evil.
It's almost like we're running out of breath. And the world needs to do one thing. Cry out. Save me, Jesus. People need the Lord. Luke 19, 10 says, For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. First Timothy 1, 15 says, Here's a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst. By the way, I've only found one error in the Bible. Oh, Jeff, you haven't heard this one, OK? This one. Paul was not the worst sinner.
I am. We're all sinners. So what kind of Savior is Jesus?
In other words, what lies at the heart of Jesus? Did you know that I didn't know this until recently, like a week ago. There's only one verse in the entire Bible where Jesus describes his heart.
Did you know that? And it's two of my favorite verses in the Bible. Matthew 11, verses 28 and 29. Jesus has come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for here it is, I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Don't you love that? In his book, which I commend to everyone, I think I mentioned it last week, gentle and lowly. Dane Altman writes, When Jesus tells us what animates him most deeply, what is most true of him, when he exposes the innermost recesses of his being, what we find there is gentle and lowly. Those two words mean describe the heart of Jesus. He is gentle and lowly.
So what does this mean? What it means is that Jesus will deal gently with you, like a mother with a newborn baby, like a little boy holding a brand new eight-week-old puppy. Like if you go into an antique store and you shop, whatever they call those places, and you tell them I'm familiar with them, and you picked up a priceless piece of china, you would be very gentle with it. Well, that's the way Jesus is with us. There's nothing harsh about Jesus. He is meek and humble and gentle.
And here's what I love. He knows your deepest pain, and he longs to set you free from it. Thus he's tender when he deals with you. Altman says that Jesus is the most understanding person in the universe. And he's sympathetic towards us. The idea that Jesus is lowly simply means that he's accessible, he's approachable.
He's not like the king of England who is not approachable. Jesus does not require anything from us before we come to him. All we have to do is open up ourselves to him and invite him into our hearts.
Have you done that? Revelation 3.20 says, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.
So let me ask you, have you opened the door of your heart to Jesus? By the way, he will knock on the door, but he's not going to knock the door down. He'll keep knocking.
I will give you this warning. He'll knock, but if you keep rejecting him, that knock gets a little softer. If you keep knocking, it's just you can't hear it. Jesus never stops knocking. The Bible says that Jesus is a friend of sinners. And as you read through the Gospels, you'll discover that the people that were drawn to Jesus were prostitutes, drunks, lepers, the demon-possessed, the poor and the sick. The men and women who had their act together, they didn't have much time for Jesus.
So if you don't have your act together, you're a good candidate for Jesus. Ortland says, again I'm going back to this book, when Jesus Christ sees the fallenness of the world all about him, his deepest impulse, his most natural instinct is to move toward that sin and suffering, not away from it. In fact, he's like the father of the prodigal. When he saw the son coming back, did he wait for him to get there?
No, what did he do? He ran after him. This is why Jesus left the glories of heaven and came into our world. To live among us, to suffer with us, and to die for us in order to save us and give us the gift of eternal life. So what does Jesus save us from? I mean, some people say, why? I don't need to be saved.
Well, guess what? We all need to be saved. Because he came to save us from our three greatest enemies. Our three greatest enemies are sin, Satan, and death. The Bible says that we are all enslaved to sin. Romans 3, 23 says, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And when you sin, the Bible says that the penalty for that is death. That's Romans 6, 23. For the wages of sin is death.
But the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. And death, simply what that means in Scripture is separation. So when we sin men, it separates us from God. And you're born in sin, so you're born separated from God. This is why you need to be saved. This is why you need a Savior. And because of our sin, we're all dying.
And if we come to the end of our lives, still carrying our sin, because we've never humbled ourself before God and admitted that we're sinners who need a Savior, then we will face an eternity in a place the Bible calls what? Hell. Does anybody want to talk about hell? No, I don't want to talk about it. But Satan doesn't want us to talk about it.
He wants you to think it's OK. It's not OK. Jesus came to save us from sin, Satan, and eternal separation from God. 1 John 3 says, The reason the Son of Man appeared was to destroy the devil's work. So how did he do this? He did it on the cross. Well, he defeated our number one enemy, Satan. And when he arose from the dead, he became the first in this coming resurrection. And because he arose from the dead, it proves who he is. He's God in the flesh. And therefore he has the authority to grant eternal life to whoever he wants to give it to.
And this is what I believe when I was 10 years old. John 3 16 says, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that who believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. And when I heard that, I said, Gosh, Mom, I want eternal life. Billy Graham, I didn't talk to him through the television set, but I was thinking, Billy Graham, I want eternal life. Please give me this gift of eternal life.
And just with the faith of a child, I believed. Hebrews 7 25, another great verse says, 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. Jonathan Edwards said, There is no love so great and so wonderful is that which is in the heart of Christ. And guys, if you can take away one thing tonight, I want you to take away this concept that Jesus loves you and that he will be gentle with you in the midst of your sin. In fact, even now, even though Jesus is not here on planet Earth, he's with us in spirit and he's physically in heaven. But the heart of him is to save anyone who draws near to him.
So have you drawn near to him? And when he saves is complete and forever, it doesn't matter how deep your sin is, it doesn't matter how egregious it was, it doesn't matter how far from God you have wandered, he wants you to be saved. Orlin writes, To the uttermost means that God's forgiving, redeeming, restoring touch reaches down into the darkest crevices of our souls. Those places where we are most ashamed, most defeated. More than this, those crevices of sin are themselves the places where Christ loves us the most.
Think about that. His heart willingly goes there. He knows us to the uttermost.
He knows everything about us. He saves us to the uttermost because his heart is drawn out to us to the uttermost. And then he concludes by saying, We cannot sin our way out of his tender care.
Did you hear that? No matter how much you sin, you cannot sin your way beyond his grace and mercy. And this is the heart of God. And at the heart of God, he wants all men to be saved. 1 Timothy 2, 4 says, God our Savior who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
So how about you? Where are you in your relationship with God? Are you willing to come to Jesus to be saved? By the way, he is the only way. And don't let some egregious sin keep you away from a loving Savior like Jesus. He came into this world to save sinners just like you and just like me. Not only is Jesus our Savior, but he's also the Christ. And just so you know, Christ is not Jesus's last name. Christ is a title for Jesus.
The better way to say it really is Jesus the Christ. By the way, Christ and Messiah mean the same thing. They both mean the anointed one. Christ is the Greek and Messiah is the Hebrew form from which we, from both those words, we get this phrase, the anointed one. And so what does it mean that Jesus is the anointed one? Well, the anointed one simply is a phrase that was used in the Old Testament and it points to this Messiah who would be coming into the world, who would be the Savior of the world. Psalm 2 says, the kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his anointed one. That's that word Messiah. The prophet Daniel, this is in Daniel chapter 7, I believe it's either 7 or 9. I forgot to write it down, but anyway, Daniel writes, the anointed one will be cut off and have nothing. Now, you all think about this prophecy. Again, this was written 700 years before the birth of Christ and he said that this Messiah will be cut off. What do you think that's a reference to?
What's it pointing to? The crucifixion. When he was literally, his life was cut off.
And then it says, and have nothing. He had nothing at that point. Everyone deserted him. When he was arrested in the garden, all the disciples fled. And this all happened to Jesus just as the Bible prophesied. Now, there were several things that the Jewish people were anticipating in this coming Messiah.
Here they are real quick. He would be Jewish. He would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem. He would be a prophet like Moses.
That's in Deuteronomy 18, I believe verse 15. He would be a priest in the order of Melchizedek. And he would be a king from the line of David. So he would be prophet, priest and king.
And that's who he is. And Jesus fulfilled every single one of these prophecies. So Jesus not only is Savior and Messiah, but finally he's also the Lord. So what does it mean that he's the Lord?
It's just another title that simply means that he is the ruler of the universe. Being a Christian is not about being religious, but about having a dynamic, alive relationship with Jesus Christ. You've been listening to Finding Purpose with Pastor Russ Andrews, glorifying God by helping men find their purpose for living. You can discover more about finding your purpose in life by checking out the resources at findingpurpose.net or connect to Finding Purpose on Facebook. Pastor Russ would also like to extend a special invitation for you to join him and over 300 other local men to study God's Word together every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in downtown Raleigh. Find out more at findingpurpose.net.
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