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December 25, 2020 12:01 am
In the fullness of time, in the village of Bethlehem, a child was born for a specific mission: to save His people from their sins. Today, R.C. Sproul leads us through one of the most magnificent passages in Scripture, the birth narrative of Jesus.
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Today on Renewing Your Mind.
Don't be afraid because there is born to you to us shepherds up to you despise shepherds my son is given unto you this day is born in the city of David a soul tear safe here.
Merry Christmas and welcome to Renewing Your Mind. When we when we are studying the gospel of Luke with Dr. RC's goal this week and we reach one of the most magnificent passages in all of Scripture, the birth narrative of Jesus as we study today we have the great privilege of joining the shepherds and witnessing the heavens open as the choir of angels sing, glory to God is Dr. Spruill. The first thing we say about Luke's narrative is found in the opening words. He begins his account by saying and it came to pass, and then he goes on to speak of the activity of the Emperor of the Roman Empire and acquired really is the governor of Syria.
Real people in real places in real history. This story does not begin with the words once upon a time because this is no fairytale. This is sober history announcing the entrance into this world of our Savior and so Luke sets his narrative squarely in the context of real history and it came to pass the in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered this story in this narrative friends is about three kings. One of those kings sits on the throne as the ruler and Emperor of the greatest power on the face of the earth in Rome. The second thing sits not on a throne but is wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in the manger. This little came as the King of Kings. He rules over the King in Rome and it's about the eternal King, the Lord God omnipotent who reigns from the moment of his work of creation till the moment of his fulfillment of his cosmos. He is the great King who reigns over all thing and so the story proximately speaks of an earthly decree that is issued and executed by the Emperor in Rome, but that Emperor in Rome issues this decree that all return to their home cities to be registered for the census in order to be taxed by Imperial Rome. This decree is done in obedience to a decree that took place much earlier, even in the eternity when God decreed that his son would come into this world to do his work of redemption for his people and that he be born at a specific time in the fullness of time at a specific place in the village of Bethlehem for a specific mission to save his people from their sins, Caesar Augustus celebrated the memory of his great uncle Julius took it upon himself to build a temple in his honor. Acknowledging the DNC of Julius Caesar.
What a foolish mistake that was the only deity within the confines of the Roman empire again was to be found in the manger in Bethlehem, but in obedience to the decree of Caesar Augustus Joseph left his home of Nazareth in Galilee. And he went up into Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem. He did this because he was a descendent of the line of David and he brought his wife with him.
This also had been decreed from all eternity with the babe be born in Bethlehem as Micah had announced centuries before the thought Bethlehem of products though they'll be small among the princes of Jude. Yet out of a few will come the one whom God has anointed so it was days were fulfilled for her to be delivered. She brought forth her firstborn son wrapped him in swaddling cloths laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the end the entrance of Jesus into this world is against the backdrop of humiliation, humiliation in his entrance into the world, humiliation in his exit from the world.
However, at that very moment when the babe is wrapped in the cloth of humiliation, the father, God is not satisfied that the circumstances of the birth of your son be only in terms of humiliation, but must also be accompanied with exultation that that shame must be balanced with glory not in the manger, but in the cave stable, where they were, but on the outskirts of the village out in the fields were the lowest evaluated people of the land.
The shepherds were keeping their flocks at night. And so out there on the plains where the sheep were being watched. That night it was quiet.
It really was a silent night and then suddenly an angel from heaven appeared to whatever shepherds were awake at the moment the angel of the Lord stood before the and the angel was accompanied with the glory of God the glory of the Lord shone around them. Every time I read that in the Bible throughout the Old Testament any time there is a theophany and outward visible manifestation of the invisible God. Almost every time we see that accompanied by the presence of the Shekinah.
The Shekinah was the blazing roof all blind glory of God himself that when that glory was visible on this planet people and their eyes from it. They were overwhelmed by it. They were driven to their knees in front of it because there was nothing in nature that could compare to the Shekinah glory of God. There, the shepherds tending their flocks taking their naps suddenly are interrupted by the angel of the Lord who is Bay in the Shekinah glory right before their eyes, and those who were asleep before the angel appeared did not stay asleep. We can be certain of that that they were roused immediately from their slumbers to take part in this sound and light show that filled the plane move gives us this notation when the Shekinah glory appeared that the shepherds were greatly afraid I like the old King James.
They were sore afraid because it's one thing to be afraid, but it's quite another to be sore afraid. When you are sore afraid. 11 you are afraid you are afraid like you've never been a phrase in your whole life, who wouldn't be trembling in fear at the manifestation of the glory of God.
At that moment the angel speaks the negative prohibition that is the most frequently uttered negative prohibition in the New Testament the Tom's from on high, fear not, don't be afraid. And it seemed almost in the New Testament record of the life of Jesus that every time he came into the presence of his disciples he had set up saying peace be with you or hello or good morning or good afternoon, they would at the site dumping for because nothing is more common for fallen creatures than to be terrified in the presence of God.
Every time I hear this negative prohibition.
Don't be afraid I can't help but think of my days of teaching philosophy and in teaching 19th century philosophy having had the unenviable task of teaching they work and writings of Frederick Nietzsche, the existential made a list who said that there is no meaning to life.
Everything is an exercise in futility.
All there is. At the end of the day is best mixed nothingness and at the same time how Nietzsche and his biological heroism called for the Superman movie dimension to demonstrate what he called dialectical courage. He said the Superman is the man who built his house on the slope of Vesuvius. He sends his ship in the uncharted seas is afraid of nothing is defiantly challenges this meaningless world in which he lives and he lives his life in the spirit of what Nietzsche called dialectical courage dialectical courage. What in the world is dialectical courage. What Nietzsche meant by that was this dialectical courage is contradictory. Each it's air rational courage, and he would say life is meaningless. Be courageous.
Even though your courage is equally meaningless. That is, he could give no sound reason for inviting anyone to be courageous anyone to be fearless. Also, the New Testament, Jesus says to his followers, be of good cheer. Life is meaningless. No, be of good cheer have dialectical joy. No, he gave a reason for that commitment. Be of good cheer.
Jesus said, for I have overcome the war long before he said those words, the Angels give a reason. Here, the angel said don't be afraid, why not because I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. Don't be afraid because there is born to you to us us shepherds ancestors born to you unto you the child support up to you despise shepherds my son is given unto you this day is born in the city of David a soul tear safe here.
Don't be afraid because this is the birthday of the one who will save you. This is the day your Savior is born not only as a Savior, but he is Christ the Lord in the shepherds understood the meaning. The word Christ was the New Testament translation of the Old Testament word for Messiah today. Your Savior is born today. The messiahs bore today, your Lord is born in Bethlehem and this will be the sign you must go and look see the sign because the sign is significant to find a baby wrapped in cheap cloth on the throne within the manger.
No sooner had the angel said that, then instantly, there was besides this single messenger from heaven. This angel perhaps even Gabriel again.
He is surrounded by the entire heavenly host, there was with the angel a multitude of that army of angels that inhabit heaven and surround the presence of our eternal God, and now it's not Zacharias, who singing it's not Mary who's singing it's the angel who bring a course from heaven saying, glory. Don't glory Augustus's to God in the highest and on earth peace and goodwill to men.
This was the first singing of the glory in excess cease day so it was Luke tells us when the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began to speak one another to see the did you hear that that here the heavens opened and that require of angels singing the Gloria, what are we doing standing here, let's go right now let us now go even unto Bethlehem. Let's see this sign. The angel has just announced so they came with haste, they found Mary and they found Joseph, my beloved, they were coming to see Mary.
They were coming to pay homage to Joseph. They were coming to see the baby was lying in the manger and once they had seen him. They made widely known the saying that was told them concerning this child widely known. They told every single person they knew that and just try to live a good life. After that, and have people come up to them and say what changed you from us and blistered soul into a valorous saint. They didn't just do evangelism by example.
They open their mouths, they told everyone what they heard and what they saw and everyone who heard it marveled at the things that were told them by the shepherds, you know you wonder how long they marveled.
You wondered how long the excitement lasted the duration of their zeal and happiness from their experience which add to be a converting experiment. Every Christmas they made mention of it. Not Mary. Mary kept these things. Everything that she saw every thing that she heard she kept it and pondered it in her heart. They days later when she took the child the temple for circumcision. She pondered that when the boy was 12 and confounded the doctors student temple. She pondered that every night that she talked her son in the bed. She pondered these things and pondered them and pondered them. Let days. She stood at the foot of the cross watched him die. She pondered that until Sunday morning. A and he arose not in humility, not ensuring not in disgrace but in glory and triumph in exultation in the shepherds left doing two things praising God and glorifying him everything they heard and everything they had seen. That's the lot of the Christian to give glory and honor the minion power and praise. We join the angel same worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive the fullness of the glory of God. That's Christmas with a beautiful! In our celebration today were glad you've joined us for Renewing Your Mind is, we lift up and honor the name of Jesus on this Christmas day. Dr. RC Sproul's message today comes from his series from the gospel of Luke. When you contact us with a donation of any amount would like to send you RC's commentary on this gospel in nearly 600 pages. He covers every verse of Luke's history of the life of Jesus and will send you this hardbound volume when you contact us with a donation of any amount or offices are closed today but you can give your gift and make your request when you go to Renewing Your Mind.org we do thank you for your generosity as you get to this ministry. Your gifts help to provide the life-giving truth of God's word to millions of believers around the world and on behalf of all of my colleagues here at winter ministries. I like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and the gift of Jesus provide light and life to you and your family