Share This Episode
Renewing Your Mind R.C. Sproul Logo

The Advent of Christ

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
December 22, 2022 12:01 am

The Advent of Christ

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1152 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

December 22, 2022 12:01 am

The earliest pages of Scripture promise of a Deliverer who will crush evil and bring redemption for God's people. Today, R.C. Sproul explains how Christ's arrival into the world brought the fulfillment of this ancient promise.

Get Two Teaching Series from R.C. Sproul for Your Gift of Any Amount:

Don't forget to make your home for daily in-depth Bible study and Christian resources.

Insight for Living
Chuck Swindoll
Connect with Skip Heitzig
Skip Heitzig
Finding Purpose
Russ Andrews
Renewing Your Mind
R.C. Sproul
Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey
In Touch
Charles Stanley

Today on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. R.C. Sproul on the advent of Christ.

Welcome to Renewing Your Mind with R.C. Sproul. I'm your host, Lee Webb, and we're appreciative of the fact that you've taken time to spend a few moments with us as we consider the Advent story. Most of us are familiar with the birth story as it's found in the Gospels. Dr. Sproul today provides a perspective of the birth of Christ against the backdrop of Romans chapter 1. Romans chapter 1 is not a passage of Scripture that we normally connect with Christmas, but as you'll hear in this lesson, it's one that has great significance. This lesson is part of the series called The Messiah is Born.

Here's R.C. Sproul. It's the Christmas season, and in the church we speak of the Christmas season as the period of the church year that we call Advent. Now, the reason it's called the Advent season is because Advent, coming from the Latin language, means a coming to. And so the coming of Christ into the world the very first time at Bethlehem in the incarnation is called the advent of Jesus.

Of course, the church also looks ahead to the future, to the return of Jesus, which is often called His second advent. But during the Christmas season, what we're most concerned about, of course, is the initial advent, His first coming into this world. Now, in this session, I'd like to direct your attention to a passage in the New Testament that is rarely, if ever, considered part of the Christmas message, and that is the first chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans. I want us to look for a moment at Paul's opening greetings and salutations, which seems even further removed from anything to do with Christmas.

But as we look at this, I think it will appear quickly and clearly why it is significant for Christmas. Paul begins his letter to the Romans with these words, Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God, which he promised before through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures. Concerning his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David, according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.

Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ. Here in Paul's perhaps most profound epistle, he begins with his normal identification of himself as a slave bound to Christ and as an apostle who has been commissioned by Christ to represent the teaching of Christ to the church. But we notice here in these opening lines that Paul speaks of his being called for a particular mission.

His task is to proclaim the gospel of God. Now let me just pause for a second here and ask us to look closely at that phrase, the gospel of God. Usually when we think about gospel, which means of course the good news, we think about either a book that is written in the New Testament, one of the biographies of Jesus as it were, or as this message of good news about the person and work of Jesus, and all of those things are true. But when Paul speaks of the gospel of God, we may be inclined to understand the words of the apostle to mean that he is about to declare good news about God. But here the grammatical form of the phrase, the gospel of God, indicates a form of possession. That is to say, we could rewrite these words to say this, that Paul is set apart and called to preach God's gospel. That is, the gospel is something that is God's possession, and it comes from God.

It is God's message, God's announcement, God's good news that is now being entrusted to the apostles who are set apart by God to proclaim it. The point is, this is not Paul's gospel. This is not the church's gospel.

This is not invented by human beings. But it is a message that belongs to God, comes from God, and is communicated through his apostles. Now, this gospel that comes to us from God concerns what? First of all, it is a gospel that God promised before. So often in the New Testament when the biblical writers refer to the work of Jesus, such as His atonement or the resurrection or any aspect of redemptive activity, the biblical writers will say that Jesus died, for example, according to the Scriptures, or that He rose again according to the Scriptures. Well, at the very outset of the proclamation of the gospel, we see that the advent of Christ, the birth of Christ, the incarnation of Christ, is also according to the Scriptures. This is something that sharply distinguishes the Christian faith from ancient mythology.

That is, that the Christian faith is intimately involved with a vast period of time and an outworking and development within the sphere of history. For the Greeks with their myths, the activities of their gods and goddesses were not related to history. They were mythological. We think of the birth, for example, of Athena. How does she come to be?

She's born de nova, suddenly out of the head of Zeus. And so you have this intrusion of mythological characters that never really are cloaked in the garb of history. But when Paul talks about the coming of Christ and of the gospel that proclaims the coming of Christ, he's talking not about something that explodes on the scene of history de nova, but it is something that God promised centuries and centuries before it ever came to pass. And so that there is a vast survey of history that precedes the actual coming of Christ. Now, that's important for us who live in the 20th century who still await the second advent of Jesus. One of the frequent sensations that people have is, well, we've been waiting for 2,000 years and Christ has not yet returned.

Maybe it's a myth. Maybe He's not coming, which is exactly the attitude of doubt and discouragement that many people in the first century had with respect to the first advent. They read the Scriptures. They knew that centuries before the prophets had predicted that the Messiah would come. And generation after generation waited eagerly and expectantly looking for the coming of the Messiah, but He didn't come. And after a while, people began to say, well, He's never coming. This is simply mythological religion.

It doesn't really relate to time and to history. But Paul, now speaking in the first century, is saying that the gospel he's proclaiming is something that God Himself promised through the prophets. Let's take a look at the origins of that promise.

The first promise that we find in Scripture concerning the coming of the Messiah is often called technically the proto-Evangel, which simply means the first gospel. And it is found all the way back in the book of Genesis as early as the third chapter. Now, normally when we think about the third chapter of Genesis, we think of the record of the fall of the human race because this is the chapter that gives us the narrative of the temptation that the serpent brought to Adam and Eve and of their subsequent failure in that test. But after Adam and Eve sin and flee from the presence of God and God comes and confronts His creatures, God gives a curse to fallen humanity. He curses the land, He curses the man, He curses the woman, and He curses the serpent. We know that the land is cursed so that now instead of willingly yielding its fruit for agricultural purposes, now the land will be filled with thorns and will be difficult in the bearing of that fruit. And man is now cursed with a certain frustration and labor that will attend the work that he is given.

Let's not misunderstand this. Work itself is not the curse. God puts Adam and Eve to work in the garden before there ever is a fall. But now what is associated with labor is the sweat of the brow and the frustration and the pain and the grief that is attending our earthly labors. But what we're most concerned about here is the curse that is given to the serpent. So the Lord God said to the serpent in Genesis 3.14, because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle and more than every beast of the field, and on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed.

He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel. Now this is a cryptic prophecy at best. It barely hints of a future that is going to unfold in the plane of history. The context of it is God's angry denunciation of Satan as he manifests himself in the form of a serpent. And so God curses the serpent, said on your belly you will go, you will eat dust all of your days, and I'm going to put enmity or estrangement, hatred, between you and the woman and between your seed and the seed of the woman. Now when the Scripture speaks of the seed of the woman, she's speaking of her descendants.

And if we look carefully at this text, there is a singular significance to the seed that is to come. That is, it focuses on one of the descendants of Eve, a man-child who will come forth at some period in time out of the loins of Eve and of her descendants whose destiny will be to crush the head of the serpent. And yet at the same time that the serpent's head will be crushed, the heel of this man-child, the seed of Eve, will be bruised. And so you see the image that is given here in Genesis 3.15, the image of a man crushing a snake to death by stomping on its head with his foot, but in the process bruises his own heel. This, of course, has been seen for centuries by the church as an image of the atonement, an image of the cross where Christ puts to death the work of the devil, crushes Satan by offering this perfect atonement for sins by which he redeems his people and brings them out of bondage. But the cost to the seed of the woman is that he can only affect this redemption through his own suffering and his own death. Which wound that is afflicted upon the Messiah is not permanent.

It's fatal, but not final, for God raises him from the dead. And so from the earliest pages of the Old Testament a promise is made for the future about the one who will come to crush the head of evil and to bring about redemption for God's people. Now as vague and as cryptic as that prophecy is in Genesis, it begins to have an increased augmented content throughout the whole passing of time in the Old Testament as prophet after prophet after prophet enlarges on the promise of God of this one who is to come.

I don't know how many prophecies there are in toto in the Old Testament about the coming of the Messiah, but some have numbered those in the thousands. There is the one who is to come who will be like Moses, who will mediate a brand new covenant for his people. There is one who will come who will be like David, whom as Amos suggests will restore the fallen booth of David. David of course was the greatest king in all of Israel, extending the borders of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and making this tiny little nation about the size of Maryland a world power under his reign, bringing untold wealth and industrial complex and so on to the Jewish nation. David inaugurated what has always been seen as the golden age of Israel. But within one generation, during the reign of David's son Solomon, the golden age began to tarnish.

And by the second generation, it turned to rust when the kingdom split between the sons of Solomon, Rehoboam, and Jeroboam. And thereafter, people longed for the restoration of the kingdom of Israel in a kingship that would mirror and reflect the graciousness of the era of David. So Amos said that the one would come who would restore the fallen booth of David.

Prophet after prophet, image after image, but perhaps none more graphic than that found in the writings of the prophet Isaiah. In the ninth chapter of Isaiah's book, he gives this very well-known prophecy that has become an integral part to the liturgy, the imagery, and the pageantry of Christmas. For in the ninth chapter of Isaiah, beginning at verse 6, Isaiah says this, For unto us a child is born, and unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

And of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. And upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice, from that time forward even forever. So do you see what Isaiah is saying here about the Messiah who is to come? He is predicting the advent of the anointed one, the Christos, the Messiah. And he's saying that the Messiah will be born. Unto us a child is born.

Again, if we look at the Christmas story in the New Testament when the angel announces the birth of Christ to the shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem, the angelic hosts say to the shepherds, unto you this day is born a Savior. Centuries before that, Isaiah is announcing the birth of a child not simply to a particular woman or to a particular set of parents, but to the nation. Unto us a child is born. Unto us a son is given. And this child who is to be born will receive vast honors and many titles. He will be called Wonderful.

He will be called Counselor. He will be called the Mighty God. He will be called the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. And He will receive a government that will be on His shoulders, and it will be the government that was first seen in its greatness in David. And of the end of His reign, there will be no terminus point.

It will be everlasting. Let me finish by taking you again to Romans 1 where Paul said there that the prophets spoke concerning God's Son, Jesus Christ, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, but declared to be the Son of God according to the Spirit of God. This is what we celebrate in the Christmas season, the advent of the One who was promised and who has come. The One who has come to give us hope and everlasting peace.

You're listening to Renewing Your Mind, the radio outreach of Ligonier Ministries in Sanford, Florida. Today's lesson from Dr. Sproul is titled The Advent of Christ, and it's part of our study called The Messiah is Born, which we've been airing all week. This five-part series covers the birth of Christ from several unique perspectives. For example, one lesson looks at the biblical significance of Mary, the Messiah's mother.

Roman Catholics tend to overemphasize her importance, yet many Protestants minimize her role in redemptive history. Dr. Sproul helps us return to a proper understanding of Mary's place in biblical history. Just contact us today with a donation of any amount, and we'll make the series available to you as a digital download.

You can call us to make your request at 800-435-4343, or you can go online to Plus, we'll send you the DVD of Dr. Sproul's series, What Did Jesus Do? Now, this is a 12-part series that shows us why Jesus' life was so important.

His obedience prior to His death and resurrection shows us what it meant for Christ to be the second Adam and what this means for us as believers today. Renewing Your Mind has sought to proclaim faithfully and thoroughly the glories of God revealed in the Bible. Our aim is to help Christians know what they believe, why they believe it, how to live it, and how to share it.

As a listener-supported mystery, we can't do this without you. We're immensely grateful for your prayers, your letters, and emails over the years, and we're also grateful for your financial support. Thank you for helping us make this outreach possible. Give your secure donation online when you visit our website,, or you can call us toll-free.

Again, that number is 1-800-435-4343. Now, here's Dr. Sproul with a closing thought on today's lesson. In our Coram Deo thought for today, let me ask you if you've ever experienced a sense of doubt or frustration about the promises of God. It seems many times that God works so slowly that we begin to despair of whether He will ever perform the promises that He has made. And yet the Scriptures tell us that the promises of God are without repentance. We remember when He spoke to Habakkuk, and He said to him that these things would certainly come to pass, and though they tarry, wait for them. The people of God in the Old Testament were those who were willing to wait for the advent of their Messiah. Even as today we look back at the fulfillment of those promises, we still stand waiting for the final advent of Christ. Let us have the same devotion and confidence to the trustworthiness of God's promises that the people of God in antiquity maintained. I'm Lee Webb. I hope you'll join us again tomorrow as Dr. Sproul continues his series, Messiah is Born, here on Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-22 03:35:40 / 2022-12-22 03:43:10 / 8

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime