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Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
December 20, 2023 9:00 am

Hark, the Herald Angels Sing

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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December 20, 2023 9:00 am

Have you ever wondered about the meaning behind some of your favorite Christmas songs? Well, Pastor J.D. takes us behind the scenes of the holiday favorite, Hark! the Herald Angels Sing. You’ll never hear it the same way again! It’s part of our series called, Carols.

Summit Life
J.D. Greear
Summit Life
J.D. Greear

Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. You think that your sin is bad. You think that you've messed things up.

You think that you're so guilty you can't be forgiven. God said there's more power in my ability to forgive than there was in the word that I spoke that caused the universe to spring into existence. There is more power in my resurrection of Jesus from the dead and my ability to heal your life than there was in anything that I have ever created. Welcome to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of Pastor J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Today, as we conclude our short teaching series called Carols, we're going to discuss the meaning behind the classic song, Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

And trust me, you'll never hear it the same way again. And just like we did earlier this week, we want to share an actual performance of this Christmas carol. So make sure you stick around until the end of the broadcast as our Summit worship team shares their rendition of this Christmas classic. But let's begin right now with Pastor J.D. and the teaching he originally preached on Christmas Eve.

Let's turn to the book of Luke as we begin. My role this evening with you is basically to take just a few minutes and set up the very next carol that we're going to sing together. And that carol is Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

Hark is a pretty old word. It's a word that we don't use a lot in normal conversation anymore, but all it means is simply listen. The writer of this carol is telling us to pay attention and listen to something that he is afraid that we are going to miss. He puts his message in the mouth of a shepherd.

You see the shepherds were the only ones who actually saw and heard the angels that evening. And there are some things about what they saw that evening that the writer of this carol wants to make sure that we do not miss. The shepherd who sings this carol seems pretty overwhelmed by three things. And these three things give you the ability to understand the secret of the true meaning of Christmas.

And here they are. First, he is amazed that the angels chose to appear to him. The shepherds had to be the least likely people on earth to receive an angelic announcement about the birth of a king. Shepherds were considered to be the lowest class in Jewish society.

They were the ultimate unskilled laborers. Shepherding was a job that you gave to children. Shepherding was a job that you gave to the children. If you were an adult and you were still a shepherd, that meant a total life fail.

And here is why the angels' choice to appear to the shepherds out of all the people in Israel, why their choice to appear to the shepherds is so important for you and for me. And that is because while Christmas time is joyful for a lot of people, it's all calm and bright and songs and joy. For others, it reminds them of how disappointed they are with where their lives are or how their lives have turned out.

It makes some feel like they are really alone. Everybody else seems to go home to their real family and their real friends at Christmas time and you stay alone. Or maybe this season reminds you of somebody who used to be in your life but is not anymore. Or maybe you forget how broken and dysfunctional your family is until Christmas time comes around.

For some of you, your entire goal over the next few days is simply for the police not to get called. That would be a good Christmas season for you. Maybe this Christmas finds you jobless for one of the first times that you could remember and you're worried about the future. Maybe you're concerned this Christmas about your kids, the decisions they're making. Or maybe you're concerned about your marriage. Maybe you're concerned about your lack of marriage prospects for yet another year. Maybe you find yourself in trouble this Christmas, maybe in trouble at your job, maybe in trouble with the law. These shepherds who came into that first Christmas came into it not feeling like their lives were awesome either.

And maybe you are in exactly the same place. We'll see the good news and what they want to make sure that you understand is that you are the very ones to whom the angels most wanted to give this message. So to you and to me and to all of us, they say, hark, hark. Second, this shepherd must have been amazed at all the celebration that was going on in the heavenly host about the birth of a baby. The angels proclaimed that evening glory to God in the highest, which simply means that God deserves the greatest praise for the birth of this baby. The greatest praise, which is pretty remarkable when you think about what else these angels had seen.

These angels had been first hand eyewitnesses of creation where God spoke a word, spoke a phrase, let there be light and billions of galaxies burst into existence. Astronomers tell us that there are a total of about 3000 billion trillion stars. That is a three with 24 zeros after it. Let me see if maybe this helps you get your mind around what size that number is. A million seconds ago was about a week and four days ago. All right, a million seconds. That's a million seconds. When do you think a billion seconds ago was? Maybe 4th of July, maybe New Year's last year. A billion seconds ago was 1984.

The first CD player had just been released onto the market. The Jedi had just returned for the very first time. There's a bunch of y'all in this room that ain't even a billion seconds old yet. Raise your hand if you're not even a billion seconds old yet, because you got nothing under your belt. See, that's a billion seconds ago. Okay, it's a billion. How long ago do you think a trillion seconds ago was? A trillion. A trillion seconds ago was 31,688 years ago.

Rocky one had just come out if you want to date that. The universe, scientists tell us, contains about 3000 billion trillion stars. And just about every single one of those puts out the amount of energy they say that would be contained.

Every second puts out the same line of energy that would be in a trillion atom bombs. These angels had seen God create all of that with just a word. Let there be light and all those things burst into existence, but that is not what they thought gave God glory in the highest. What gave God glory in the highest that they sang about that evening was this, veiled in flesh the Godhead see. Hail the incarnate deity, pleased as man with men to dwell. Jesus, our Emmanuel, the greatest glory they thought that God ever displayed was his decision to come and to die for sinners.

The gospel is that you and I were hopelessly doomed and God the creator came to take our place so that we would not have to suffer the penalty of what you and I had brought onto ourselves, that God's son Jesus was going to suffer it in our place. And for the book of 1 Peter, the apostle Peter says that the angels are amazed by this. They've seen God create the stars with a, put out enough energy every second to power a trillion atom bombs, but that is not what blows their minds. What they long to look more deeply into, the angels who see the face of God every day, what they cannot get their minds around, what blows their minds is the mercy that God displayed towards sinful people in the gospel, toward you and toward me. So they say, hail the heaven born prince of peace. Hail the sun, S-U-N, of righteousness, light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings.

The angels had seen God's power to create stars of immense energy and immense number, but what gave them unbelievable sense of wonder was God's mercy that he showed to rebellious sinners and his power to heal them and to resurrect them from the curse of death. You think that your sin is bad. You think that you've messed things up. You think that you're so guilty.

You can't be forgiven. God said, there's more power in my ability to forgive than there was in the word that I spoke that caused the universe to spring into existence. You think sin is scarred your life. You think it's messed up your heart.

You think it's destroyed your relationship. God says, there is more power in my resurrection of Jesus from the dead and my ability to heal your life than there was in anything that I have ever created. Mild he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth. You see, the gospel is that you and I were doomed in our first birth, in our natural birth, and so Jesus came to save us and give us a new birth. You see, underneath all of your religious good moral makeup, we're really just rebellious sinners. We're really just rebellious sinners when you strip everything else away.

I know that might sound harsh, but look into your heart. Deep down, have we not assumed always that we knew best how to run our lives? As kids, we thought for sure that we knew better than our parents. If I were to ask any 10 year old here, and I know there's probably a number of you, if I were to ask you just really, what do you think? Who knows more about life right now? Is it you or your parents?

Every 10 year old that was honest would be like, I know more about my life than my parents. As we get older, we don't really, I mean, we grow up a little bit, but we don't really change. We still assume that we are the ones who know best how to rule our lives, which is why our condition to God, our obedience to God is always conditional. And we never really want to give him total control because ultimately I'm the one who knows best for my life, and I know better than even God. Have we not preferred to make ourselves the focus and center of our lives rather than God?

Isn't that why when we look at a picture at Christmas time, we evaluate how good the picture is by how we look in that picture, because life is just about us. And we don't want to make it about the glory of God. We want to make it about our glory.

We want to be the focus and the center. Haven't we always thought that our will ought to trump God's will when the two conflicted. The angels understand that that is moral insanity and it is cosmic treason. And the penalty for that cosmic treason is death.

I know that it is popular today to see ourselves as basically good people with a few blind spots and maybe some weaknesses, or maybe we're misunderstood people with hidden potential that just hasn't been tapped into yet. But I have to tell you, that is not what the Bible says about us. It says that you and I are traitors to God. We're part of a traitor race and we are under the rightful curse of death. And you see, there are only two ways that that curse can be resolved.

The first way is we suffer it eternally ourselves, which means that we're separated from God forever in a place of eternal death called hell or Jesus in his mercy and his love would be born as a baby to live the life that we were supposed to live and then die the death that we were condemned to die, that he would absorb the curse in our place so that we could escape it. That was the cross. It was Jesus dying in your place. It was not his pride or his rebellion or his deceit or his immorality or his selfishness or his impurity that caused him to be nailed to the cross for he had none of those things. It was my sin, my pride, my lies, my exaggerations. It was my selfishness and my cruelty that caused those nails to go into his hands and those thorns to crown his brow. It was the creator dying in the place of the created and the angels see this and they can't understand it.

Why wouldn't you just wipe out the human race and why wouldn't you just create another one from scratch? Thanks for joining us today on Summit Life. We'll get back to our teaching in just a moment, but first let me tell you about our latest resource created exclusively for our Summit Life listeners. You know, there's nothing magical about the new year, but it does present a natural opportunity for reflection and change. It's a great time to take stock of your life and set some goals for ways that you want to grow in the coming months. Maybe you want to start reading your Bible every day, or maybe you want to get better at making time for ministry or leading your family in a new way.

Maybe it's a broken relationship that needs mending or an unhealthy habit you need to break. Whatever it may be, we hope that our 2024 Summit Life day planner will be a great tool to help you prioritize your time and meet these goals. Reserve your copy today with a generous year-end gift by calling 866-335-5220 or visit us online at Now let's get back to the final moments of our teaching today on Summit Life. Once again, here's Pastor JD. Mild he lays his glory by, born that men no more may die. I know that it's popular today to also say that whatever way you want to follow God is okay, as long as you're sincere. God's like a mountain after all, right?

Many roads going up to the top of the mountain, different roads, they all lead ultimately to the same place. But I need to help you understand that as clear as the Bible says anything, as clear as Jesus ever said anything, that is not true. It is not what the Bible says. What the Bible says is salvation is found in nobody else. There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Jesus said, John 14 six, I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the father unless he comes through me. You see, every other religion teaches you that you can save yourself. If you'll be good enough, if you'll practice enough religious observances, if you'll go to church enough, if you'll take communion, if you'll go to the mosque, if you'll pray toward Mecca, if you'll sacrifice to the Buddha and if you'll follow the eightfold path, then if you do that enough and you do it sincere enough, then you can be saved. But Jesus taught exactly the opposite. He said, you cannot save yourself.

You can never save yourself no matter what you did. So I did it for you. And you're gonna have to humble yourself and receive that as a gift. And that is not the same message.

I see it like this. If I couldn't swim and I fell off the boat and there I am in the water struggling to keep my head above water and you're standing on the side and in your hand, you've got a life saver in the left hand and in your right hand, you got a big old rock. And I say, save me. And you say, well, which one you want me to throw to you? And I say, it doesn't matter as long as you're sincere. Just throw one of them to me sincerely.

It does matter which one you throw to me. Religion says, try harder, be better, be better, swim a little bit more. Jesus' message is you're drowning. So I did it for you. I did what you could never do. I lived the life that you were supposed to live, but did not. I died the death that you were condemned to die, but could not suffer unless you did it eternally.

And I now offer it to you as a gift that you have to receive. So the shepherds say, hark, hark, this is your lifesaver. Lastly, the shepherds, this shepherd was probably amazed that he was the one that was chosen to announce this to others.

Think about this. The only ones, the only ones who got to see the angels that night were the shepherds. Everybody else had to hear about this announcement from the shepherds. The shepherds got glory and songs and noels and hallelujahs and everybody else got smelly, barely literate shepherds. And honestly, that might disappoint us.

Most of us would probably prefer the angels, right? But see, this is a very important thing that you need to learn about God. Throughout scripture, God's primary way of speaking to people is through broken and flawed instruments through shepherds. You see, the first time most people hear the gospel message, it's almost always from somebody that they know pretty closely. Most people hear the gospel message for the first time from a family member or a friend and here's the thing about family members and friends. You know all of their flaws and you wonder, how could God possibly be speaking to me through my older brother? Or maybe you heard about all of this for the first time through that annoying neighbor who is seated right beside you right now this morning. And all you can think is their kids are totally out of control.

They got the worst yard in the neighborhood. How could they possibly grasp the mysteries of eternity and share them with me? At least what my neighbors who were here this morning I think are probably saying. Listen, just because the messenger is flawed does not mean the message is flawed. God chooses as his primary mouthpieces shepherds.

That's how it was at the first Christmas and that's how it is today. There's a very famous Old Testament story that if you grew up in Sunday school at all, you are familiar with it. It's a kid favorite. It's the story of a prophet named Balaam. He's gonna go do something that God doesn't want him to do. So God sends an angel to impede his path and as his donkey is walking down the road the angel stands there in the path with a big old flaming sword. Balaam can't see it but God opens the donkey's eyes so that the donkey can see it and so the donkey won't go forward. So Balaam starts to cuss at the donkey and the donkey still won't go forward so Balaam hops off and starts to kick the donkey then grabs a stick and starts to beat the donkey and so God in mercy opens up the donkey's mouth and gives him the ability to speak and the donkey says, look Jack you better cut that out because I'm trying to save your life. And the point of the story is God spoke through a donkey. The King James version of course says an ass and the point is if God spoke through a donkey he can speak through your annoying neighbor. Well let me say it like this I'll use King James English. Just because the messenger is an ass doesn't mean the message isn't the truth. And you kids listen it's not okay to use that word unless you're quoting from the King James version okay.

So Charis, Ally, Ryan, Adonai kids that are sitting over there do not use that word about your friends or your teachers or anybody else that's only okay in the KJV. So this message listen this message to you from the shepherds and from me. Maybe even from that annoying neighbor who invited you tonight is this, Hark, listen, listen. You see God has been pursuing you. God has been speaking to you.

If you think about it you know it. And the question this writer of this carol asked you that I ask you is would you stop for a minute and just listen? Could you let the rush and the stress of the Christmas season just kind of fade away for just a minute?

Maybe even let your objections, all your but what about and why didn't and all those kind of questions would you let them be put aside for just a minute would you just listen? These angels are not trying to tell you to try harder. They're not telling you to be better. They're not telling you that you're not good enough.

You better clean your life up. God is telling you that you could never be good enough but he loves you anyway so much that he left heaven for you and he did the work of saving you. The same God who created the stars set his love on you and 2,000 years ago he appeared as a baby in a manger so that he could live the life that you were supposed to live and then he would suffer the curse of death that you'd been condemned to suffer and do it in your place so that if you would just listen and just receive he would do the work of saving you. There's nothing that you need to do.

Indeed there's nothing you can do. Nothing except for listen to his voice and receive the gift if you never have. Are you ready to hearken? Are you ready to listen and receive what Jesus did 2,000 years ago that you couldn't do for yourselves?

Why don't you bow your heads if you would. Let me make sure you understand this. The gospel is that Jesus Christ is the Lord and that he came to do for you what you couldn't do for yourself. He paid for your salvation in full so that if you will receive him as your Savior and surrender to him as Lord he will save you. If you've never made that decision or you're not sure that you've made it I'd invite you to pray a prayer like this. These are not magic words but if it comes from your heart God will hear it. God, I know that I'm a sinner and I'm sorry for my sin and I surrender my life to you.

Say it to me in your own words. I receive Jesus Christ fully and completely now as my Savior. Thank you Jesus for saving me. Thank you for saving me.

Thank you for saving me. Father, I pray for the many, God, by faith I know many who right now for the first time or for the first time that they really understood it trusted Christ as their Savior. God, I pray that you would give them clarity in the days to come that they would sense this new birth and a new life that will go on into eternity that you were calling them forward to. We pray in Jesus' name. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Well some in church when the shepherds first heard that announcement 2,000 years ago it says that they worshiped. So with the shepherds would you heart, the herald, angel, sing, would you listen, would you stand to your feet and let's proclaim this and let's worship God for his gift of salvation. Join the triumph of the skies with angelic hosts proclaim, Christ is born of Bethlehem.

Heart, the herald, angel, sing glory to the newborn King. You're listening to Pastor JD Greer and this is Summit Life. You know in this season of giving we just want to take a minute to remind you that there's no other gift that can compare to the gift of knowing Jesus and we'd love for you to partner with us in bringing the gospel to the radio, tv, and online so more people can know that joy. A little while ago I sat down with Pastor JD to talk about one of our most popular featured resources our annual day planner. I think you know there's nothing magical about the new year it's you know one sense like every other day but it just gives you a natural place to pause for reflection and so this is a tool that allows us to take stock of our life to you know Psalm 90 verse 12 to consider our days consider what's you know going on and what we're spending our time on.

We all know the experience of coming into the new year with a lot of goals and a lot of intentions and you know having it completely wash up by week three of January. This will help you turn those intentions into reality. So it's our special planner. It's going to be your trusted companion in this. We're going to throw in a one-year bible reading plan to sweeten the deal on it.

Don't miss out on this. Let's go into this year together partnering together to reach the people that God has put in our lives to reach. Will you join us today?

If you're not already a gospel partner would you consider a regular monthly commitment of $35 or more? If you sign up today or give a one-time gift we'll send you our 2024 Summit Life Planner as a way to say thank you. Call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220 or you can give online at

I'm Molly Vitovich. Be sure to join us Thursday when we jump into another one of Pastor JD's Christmas Eve sermons from years past. This one is called The Seekers Chapter. Don't miss it Thursday on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-20 12:38:35 / 2023-12-20 12:48:30 / 10

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