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The Annunciation

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
August 22, 2021 12:01 am

The Annunciation

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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August 22, 2021 12:01 am

When a young woman named Mary was visited by the archangel Gabriel, this heavenly messenger revealed that Mary, though a virgin, would bear a son by the power of God. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his series in the gospel of Luke to declare that with God, nothing is impossible.

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The archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her she was going to have a son.

Dr. R.C. Sproul often said, It's not enough to believe in God. We must believe God. And Mary is an incredible example of that trust. When she heard that she was going to bear the Messiah in her womb, she submitted, even when she was frightened. Today on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. Sproul preaches from Luke's Gospel, and as we pick up in Chapter 1, we will learn about the amazing announcement that Jesus the Messiah would soon be born.

Again the archangel Gabriel is dispatched from the presence of God on a mission to give an announcement of extraordinary importance. He had been selected by God to give a similar announcement to Zacharias, one that Zacharias staggered before its content, wondering how the message could possibly be fulfilled since he thought he was too old and his wife was beyond the age of childbearing. And if Gabriel had his hands full with Zacharias, the announcement he was going to be giving to Mary was even more extraordinary, because at least in antiquity in the pages of the Old Testament, there were historical precedents of women who were barren and past the age of childbearing, whom God quickened their womb and granted them sons. But no time in the history of the world had any woman ever had a child while she remained a virgin.

This would be the first and last time in all of history that such an event would take place. And so we're told in the text that during the six months of Elizabeth's pregnancy Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, a tiny village that was situated almost halfway between the Mediterranean Sea that was twenty-two miles to its west and the Sea of Galilee, which was fifteen miles to its east and slightly north. And so this little village of no grand significance historically was visited by this heavenly messenger who came to a virgin who was betrothed to a man, and betrothal of course was more serious than engagement.

To break a betrothal necessitated actually a divorce among Jewish people, though the couple had not yet actually been married or consummated their union. But Mary was promised and betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, who was of the house of David. And when the angel came to Mary, he greeted her with these somewhat strange words, rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women. Those of you who are of Roman Catholic background may notice immediately these words as being familiar to you as they are part of the rosary, and the words are uttered, Hail Mary, full of grace, blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. The translation that I just read here has the angel saying, rejoice, highly favored one. In the Latin Vulgate, translated by the church father Jerome, the words there that are used are gracia pline, which means literally full of grace. And the angel recognized that Mary has received such an abundance of grace that no woman prior to this moment in history had ever, ever experienced. Her favor with the Lord was without equal. And so with this greeting, obviously Mary is stunned and bewildered.

What can this possibly mean? Who is this angel? What does he say? That I'm filled with grace, that I'm highly favored, and that I am supposedly supremely blessed, and that the Lord is with me. Imagine this young peasant girl hearing these words from an angel, and the angel says, Mary, God is with you.

God is with you right now in an extraordinary measure. He has come to you with a plenitude of grace, and you have been highly favored in His sight. But when she saw the angel, she was troubled at his saying.

And she wondered, what manner of greeting was this? And in her wonderment, the angel spoke to her again saying, don't be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. Just as the angel instructed Zacharias about the name of his Son, so the angel instructs Mary what her Son shall be named.

He will be great. He will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His Father David. You're going to have a Son, and your Son will be great, and not only will He be your Son, but He will be known as the Son of the Most High God. And not only will He be known as the Son of the Most High God, but He's the Son of David, the one that God promised would be David's Son and David's Lord. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.

What? My Son? A King?

How can I handle these things? It's not enough that I'm going to have a Son, but He's going to be called the Son of God, and not enough that He's going to be the Son of God, but He's going to be a King. And not only will He be a King, but He's going to be a King on the throne of David forever and ever and ever. This young girl was a godly woman. Surely she knew the pages of the Old Testament Scriptures.

Surely she understood that David's Son, whose kingdom would last forever and ever, would be the Messiah of Israel. Are you telling me that the baby you say I'm going to have will be the Messiah? And you tell me not to be afraid? You tell me to rejoice?

Yes, this is joyous news, but it's terrifying too at the same time. And so Mary said to the angel, how? You would think that she would have said first, why? But she says, how? How can this be since I know not a man?

Mr. Gabriel, maybe you have the wrong address. I'm a virgin, and I'm not a sophisticated biologist, but I know something that every woman in Nazareth, every woman in Galilee, and every woman in Judea knows, and that is the stork doesn't bring babies. I can't have a baby.

I'm a virgin. How? How can this be?

Now, let me just pause here for a second. Mary is responding like any child of nature would respond. Even in her day, people assumed that there were such things as natural laws, laws of nature that acted independent from the sovereign providence of God. And this is the view that we have of nature today. We somehow think that the laws that we call the laws of nature, like the law of gravity and the law of inertia and so on, are laws that are inherent in the created universe, and they operate independently from the power of God, from the providence of God, and from the sovereignty of God. That's the reason why historically theologians have defined miracles as actions of God that are contra notoriously, against nature. But we have to stop for a minute and realize that what we call natural laws are simply the ordinary way in which God governs His creation. God governs His creation according to a pattern that He establishes, and that pattern, for example, includes the regularity of things falling when you drop them because of gravity. But even gravity has no power whatsoever apart from the sustaining power of God Himself. Ladies and gentlemen, we're Christians. We believe in the Lord God Almighty who reigns over everything, who sets the planets in their courses, who sends the birds south in the winter, and a few snowbirds with them.

You can depend on them. They're already starting to arrive here at St. Andrews. But from Mary's perspective, from the perspective of the natural, there was no way that this announcement could come true. It was simply against the laws of nature. But the angel has the answer to her question of how, and he takes the time carefully to explain it to this young lady, Mary, here's how. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the highest will overshadow you. The Holy Spirit in biblical terms is sometimes in fact often referred to as the dunamis, the power of God.

We get the English word dynamite from it. That is the Spirit of God in which God invests His supernatural sovereign power. It is by the Holy Spirit's brooding over the waters that the original creation came into existence. If we go back to Genesis 1 where we see in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, there in that uncreated state in Genesis the universe is described as being formless, amorphous, empty, a vacuum, nothing there, and enveloped in total darkness until the Spirit of God hovered over the waters. And as the Spirit of God brooded and hovered like a hen broods over her eggs and over her chicks, and while the Spirit is brooding over this unformed state, God spoke, let there be light, and the lights came on, and the earth became filled with all kinds of creatures, and the earth was formed and shaped and structured by this omnipotent Creator. Do you remember that, Mary? And right now there's nothing in your womb, no form. It's empty.

It's dark. But the same Spirit that hovered over the darkness at the beginning will overshadow you, will come upon you, and by His omnipotent power, you will conceive, so that the one whom you will bear will be the Holy One, the other one, the one who was other from every other creature ever born, the supremely sacred and consecrated one, and He will be called the Son of God. Your relative Elizabeth, by the way, has also conceived a son in her old age.

It happens six months ago. She's in her sixth month, Mary, for her who was called barren. Mary, for with God, nothing will be impossible. Of course, in every seminary class I ever had, I had the students who came up with the desired conundrum. Professor, do you believe that God is omnipotent? Yes, that God can do all things. Yes, nothing is impossible.

God, yes. Well, can God build a rock so big that He can't move it? If I say, yes, He can build a rock so big that He can't move it, then there's something that's not possible for Him to do, and He's not really omnipotent. And if I say, no, He can't build a rock so big that He can't move it, then again I'm skewered on the horns of this dilemma, and I'm left with saying that God is not omnipotent, that there are certain things that He can't do.

Well, I've told you this before. There is a right answer to that question, and it's very simple. Can God build a rock so big that He can't move it? Of course not! Why not? Because He's omnipotent.

Why not? Because no thing is impossible with God. And to be omnipotent does not mean that God can do anything. God can't die. God can't lie. God can't be God and not be God at the same time and in the same relationship. He can't stop being God, and as long as He's God, whatever He makes, whatever He creates, He controls, and He has power over. That's the theological lesson that the angels are reiterating here, to marry with God. Nothing is impossible.

All things are possible. That is, He has power over everything in His creation, including your empty womb. I remember speaking in Pittsburgh in the shadow of Carnegie Mellon University many years ago, and it was a dinner followed by a lecture, and I was seated by a professor of physics at the dining room table, and I was speaking on God talk on whether human language is adequate to communicate anything meaningful about God. And the physicist being something of a skeptic said, boy, as a theologian, you have a tough ticket tonight. He said, you fellows there dealing with philosophy and theology have a difficult time speaking meaningfully about all these concepts that you use. And I said, well, you should be sympathetic with me.

You should be able to relate to that difficulty. He said, what do you mean? I said, well, you're a physicist, aren't you? He said, yes.

I said, well, don't you have the same difficulty in your…? He said, what do you mean? I said, well, tell me. Please tell me, what is energy? And he said, well, energy is the ability to do work.

And I said, no, no, no. I'm not asking you what it can do. I'm asking you what it is. Tell me its ontology, what its being consists of. And he said, well, energy is MC squared.

I said, I don't want to know its mathematic equivalency or how it can be measured. Don't you see? I'm asking you what it is because every day you talk about energy as if it were some thing, something real, some entity.

It took less than two minutes to turn this guy upside down. And he had this smile. He said, well, you got me there. I said, yeah, it's a concept you talk about all the time, and we're supposed to assume that we know what it is. I don't know what it is. For all I know, it's the Holy Spirit.

I still don't know what it is, except when I lose it. But we need to think in terms of the transcendent reality of the One who is speaking. And so now we consider the announcement of this child who was born to die.

When God speaks, it is truth, and no human philosophy can alter that truth. We're glad you've joined us for the Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind. I'm Lee Webb. As co-pastor of St. Andrew's Chapel here in Sanford, Florida, Dr. R.C. Sproul had the opportunity to preach through entire books of the Bible. My wife and I are members of St. Andrew's.

R.C. was our pastor, and we remember those expository series so well and with heartfelt gratitude. His biblical wisdom has been captured in his commentary series. And when you contact us today with a donation of any amount, we'd be glad to provide you with a digital download of this commentary from Luke's Gospel. This is an online offer only, so we invite you to go to to make your request. Again, that's And before we go today, a quick reminder here at Renewing Your Mind, our goal is to come alongside the local church and provide resources to help growing Christians know what they believe and why they believe it.

When you listen to R.C. 's sermons each Sunday here on this program, it is not our intention for this time to replace your regular attendance and worship at your church. We're glad to offer these messages as a supplement to your study, and we're glad that you could be with us, but we trust that you are a member of a local church there in your own community. Next week, we will get to hear Mary's response to the Archangel Gabriel's announcement. So make plans to join us here next Sunday for Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-14 03:37:29 / 2023-09-14 03:44:31 / 7

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