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Why God Sent His Son (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
December 10, 2022 3:00 am

Why God Sent His Son (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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December 10, 2022 3:00 am

It’s possible to be familiar with the Christmas and Easter stories yet miss the connection between them. On Truth For Life, Alistair Begg explains why understanding the events at Calvary is necessary before we can truly comprehend Christmas’s significance.



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Most people are familiar with both the Christmas story and the Easter story but surprisingly many don't draw a connection between the two. On Truth for Life weekend we'll find out why we can't fully comprehend the significance of Christmas until we first understand the events at Calvary. Alistair Begg is concluding a message called Why God Sent His Son and we're in Galatians chapter 4. There is a story that runs the whole way through the Bible that is understood when we think about the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And it is this in a sentence or two. God from all of eternity determined that he would redeem, purchase, buy, take to himself a people who are his very own, and that the whole of the Bible is the unfolding of this plan of redemption. Christmas is an announcement—good news, great joy for all the people. And what exactly, then, is the nature of the announcement? What is the nature of the good news?

What does this mean, and how does it fit? Well, as I said to you, in the epistles, much of what we read in the Gospels is explained, and every so often in the epistles you come on a summary statement which gives to us a very succinct way of understanding the story. And verses 4 and 5 of Galatians chapter 4 provide us with just one of those statements.

And I want to read them to you, and then I want to unpack them for you by noticing with you a number of questions. Verse 4 of Galatians 4, But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. When was this?

When the time had fully come. What was this God was sending? We've already really dealt with who was this, because he was sending his Son.

So let's go to how was this? How did this take place? How does this unfold, this huge metaphysical concept? Well, two little phrases are all we have in verse 4. God sent his Son. Phrase number one, he was born of a woman. Phrase number two, he was born under law. Is there significance in this?

Yes. Born under woman is simply a reminder to us of the fact that he was truly a man, that the Jesus who walked the Jerusalem streets and moved around the hills of Judea and was present on the Sea of Galilee was a real man. He was not a phantom. Now, you're going to have to go home, and only one of you will probably do this—it's probably me—and read the first three chapters of Galatians and fill in all the blanks. But stay with me, and I'll try and help you by summary. Reading these verses out of context is dangerous, because so much of the surrounding context is vital to understanding each piece of it, and particularly born under the law. The previous chapter has had so much to say about the law of Moses, summarized in the Ten Commandments, okay? And, says Paul, when God comes to earth in the person of Christ, he has a human mother, and he lives a human existence, and he's born under the jurisdiction of the law of God. In other words, he's not free to do whatever he wants to do. He is here to do all that the law demands. He becomes subject to the demands of the law—to love the Lord his God with all his heart and all his soul and all his mind and all his strength, to be absolutely truthful in his words, to be absolutely faithful in his friendship, to be absolutely committed to the things that God has given to his people whom he has redeemed. And it is because he has fulfilled all of the precepts of the law in perfection that he is able to be the representative of his people. Nobody who ever lived on earth was able to exhaust the penalty which falls on people for having broken the law, and Jesus in his death takes the penalty of the law upon himself and therefore fulfills the role of substitute.

So he cannot be our representative unless, under the law, he is absolutely faultless, and he cannot be our substitute unless he is able to bear in himself all of the penalty that falls on those who break the law. So you see, when you look into the cradle, as it were, and into the eyes of this wriggling infant, don't think you can walk away and say, Oh, coochie-coo, how nice is that, you know? It gives me a cozy feeling.

It makes me want to phone my grandchildren or whatever it is. When you look into that face, you look into the eyes of one who, in the growth of his humanity, was to live in total perfection for you that he might represent you, and who was to die in total agony in order that you need not die. Don't sidle by this Christmas story and think to take your hat off at it and throw some money in the pail and give a coat to a child and say, I understand it and I live it.

No, there is an immensity of material in this, and to grapple with it, you actually need to understand so much of the surrounding material. Let me try and summarize it to you by pointing out that all of this has to do with the way in which Paul interacts between three figures of history. One is Abraham, one is Moses, and one is Jesus. When you read verses 15–22 of chapter 3, which I know you're going to do, you will discover there that Paul is reminding these Galatian Christians that to Abraham God had made a promise.

Just a promise. He comes to Abraham and he makes him a promise. He says, All nations on the earth will be blessed through your seed.

And he deals with this in chapter 3, which you can consider on your own. He makes a promise to Abraham with no strings attached, totally free, totally unconditional, no laws to obey, no merit to establish it, and no conditions to fulfill. Then he says in verse 17, The law which was given to Moses and through Moses, which was introduced four hundred and thirty years later, does not set aside the covenant, the promise, previously established by God and thus do away with it.

Okay? Because the question in the minds of a thinking person is this. If God comes and he gives a promise to Abraham, and then he gives a law to Moses, how do the two of them fit together? Is it a promise that you just accept unconditionally? Or is it a law that you have to obey and you get entry to God's eternal kingdom on the basis of obeying the law?

Which is it? For if it's promise, it's not law. If it's law, it's not promise.

How do they fit? I mean, it's the message of Jesus as he comes, Here I was, and I came, and I was perfect, and I want you to be as perfect as you can. I obeyed the law, and it's perfection. I know that you can't, but do as good as you can, and we'll see you when you get up to the eternal gates, and depending how well you did, we'll grade you when you're there.

Is that it? Or is it that he comes and he promises us that if we will trust in what he has done as our representative and as our substitute, then we will be welcomed in his eternal presence? Now, that's the question that he's wrestling with. Verse 18, for if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise. It's gonna be one or the other, he says. But God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.

Then he asks the question that at least three of you have in your mind. Verse 19, well, what then was the purpose of the law? I mean, if God is determined to do this by means of a promise, where does the law come in? Where do you put the Ten Commandments?

What are they supposed to do? Are the Ten Commandments ten rungs on a ladder of which we climb finally to reach God? No. After God gave the promise to Abraham, he gave the law to Moses.

Why? Because he had to make things worse before they could ever get better. You see, what the law does is it exposes sin. We get up in the morning and say, you know, I'm a fine character.

I'm really… I mean, in comparison to most of the people in my office, I think I'm doing fairly well, and I'm sure that as Christmas comes around, I'm playing my part and doing my bit, and I think everything's fine. Well, then just take Exodus 20 and read the law of God. And when you read the law of God, what it will say to you? I'm not as smart as I thought. I'm not as good as I believed. In fact, I'm a lawbreaker.

Why is that? Because the law shows my sin. It tells me that I'm supposed to have no other gods before God. And I worshiped myself last week. I put myself forward when I should have sat back.

I prided myself on my investments and my retirement account, and I'm actually trusting in them. I'm not trusting in God, but I've grown so used to doing it that it doesn't confront me at all until I read the law, and I read the law, and it says, You shall have no other gods before me. And if I'm honest, there's a great arrow goes to my heart. It says, You have a God before God, and the God is yourself, or the God is your resources, or the God is your plans, your dream, your ambition, your girlfriend, or whoever else it is. So the law exposes my sin. And the law condemns my sin. God's promise to Abraham is fulfilled in Christ.

The law given to Moses is fulfilled perfectly by Christ. And the law is given not to bestow salvation on men and women, but to convince men and women that we need salvation. See, as we go through our days, we don't believe we need a Savior.

We're not walking around the streets of Cleveland going, Excuse me! Excuse me! Can you tell me where I could be saved? Excuse me! Can I just stop you for a moment?

Can you help me? I need a Savior. I need somebody to get me out of my mess. Has anyone in the last five years ever come up to you and said that, just out of the blue? There's not a soul doing that. People are walking through the streets of Cleveland saying, I'm fine. I'm fine.

So how are they going to find out that they're not fine? If all that happens when they come to church is someone says, Well, I've got a lovely promise for you. I have a promise for you. I have a promise for you.

The person says, You know what? You can keep your promise. I don't need your promise. This is a promise. The promise is that Jesus is a Savior.

Big deal! I don't need a promise. Well then, let me tell you about the law.

And so you read the law of God to them. You say, How do you feel now? Well, admit I got a bit of a problem here. I thought that I was going to get seven or eight out of ten. Frankly, by the time you finished, I was down to about two and a half, and I think I'm being generous to myself. Well then, if God is going to judge you on the basis of his law, how are you planning on standing before him?

Since you're only scoring about two and a half out of ten, and you're trying to be generous to yourself, well, says the individual, I really don't know. Well then, could I tell you about a wonderful promise that God has made to those who have been confronted the law, find themselves in need of somebody to do for them what they can do for themselves? And then that, you see, sends us to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, that answers the why question, and it's a why question of importance, isn't it? When was this? When the time was right. What was this? God sent. Who was this? His Son. How was this? Born of a woman, born under the law.

Why was this? Look, to redeem and to adopt. To redeem and to adopt. That he who was a son by nature willingly takes the form of a servant so that those of us who by nature are servants of sin may discover what it means to be adopted as sons as a result of his grace. He who was a son by nature becomes a servant in time so that we who are servants to sin might discover the wonderful privilege of being redeemed and adopted into God's family. And this is an announcement, you see.

This is good news. The Lord Jesus redeems us from the curse that awaits us as lawbreakers by taking the curse himself. That's why you cannot understand Christmas without Calvary.

You cannot get to the issue. The Harry Belafonte thing does not do it. And man will live forevermore because of Christmas Day.

Not true. Man will live forevermore because God has made him an eternal being. The question is, where will man live forevermore? With God in heaven or without God in hell? And how can we determine that we're going to heaven and not to hell on the strength of what we find in this manger? It is only in recognizing that here in the manger God has sent to us one who bears the curse that we deserve.

See, the Lord Jesus comes to fulfill the law voluntarily, taking upon himself a curse, while we, failing to fulfill the law voluntarily, face a curse that we can't get out of. So in other words—and I'm sorry to burst your bubble—this is really bad news. I mean, I got bad news for you. There are three groups this morning. Group number one has never trusted in Christ, and the reason they've never trusted in Christ is because they've never had the law preached to them.

They come to Parkside quite regularly, and I've been deficient. I haven't made this clear to you. I've continually said to you, Jesus is the answer, Jesus is the answer, Jesus is the answer, and you've been sitting there saying, Could you just take a couple minutes and fill in on what the question is? Because frankly, he is no answer to me at all.

So what you actually need is not a lot of promise. You need a lot of law. You need the law to come to you and break you and bruise you and expose your sin and then show you up for what you really are. You can't get away from it by simply saying, These are sentimental songs.

They're sentimental melodies. You need to be aware of the fact, as do we all, that we stand before God, and we need to be humbled and terrified and bruised and broken, and when that happens to us, then we will come to seek his grace and to seek Christ. And not until it does. And that is, you see, why I am completely powerless. This is one of the hardest tasks in all the world. If I could coerce people into this, if I could come up to you and shake your wooden head and say, Listen, do you understand this? Will you not do this? But I can't.

I can only explain as best. Say to your loved ones, God is gracious and patient with you. That's why you're still alive. God is coming, and he's putting, as it were, the scalpel upon these areas of your lives. He wants to bruise you, and he wants to break you, and he wants to wound you. And until you are wounded, you will never ask for Christ to relieve you of your wounds. Until you know yourself to be imprisoned by the means of the law, you will never come to Christ for freedom. Until you have been driven to despair of yourself, you will never come to trust in another, namely Jesus. Why would you?

Why ever should you? Why trust in Christ if you trust in yourself, but only when you come to see it is a folly to trust in yourself? May you then consider trusting Christ. Only when you have been humbled down to hell will you be interested in the way that you might be raised up to heaven.

But as long as you live here, just another Christmas, another little bit of heaven on earth, another little bit of coach for kids, and put a little money in the United Way and do my thing and respond to all the appeals, not only did you miss the point, but you live in grave danger. The second group is the reverse. The second group is not made up of people who need to have the law preached to them. It is made up of people who have had the law preached to them and need to understand the promise of God. These people are slavish in their commitment to the rules. They don't understand that God has provided the law to reveal sin and drive men to Jesus to save them. And Satan has bewitched them, often from the lips of religious professionals who have proclaimed the law in such a way not as to drive people to Jesus but as to drive people to despair.

I meet these people all the time. Religion for me has been a slavish commitment to rules and regulations. I have tried my best to do it. I've been told every week, you're a dreadful person and you're in grave predicament. Well, of course, if you're in group one, that's the message you need to hear. But if you're in group two, the message you need to hear is, listen, God gave the law not so that you could prove yourself holy but in order that it would prove that you're a sinner.

So what you're actually trying to do with it is the wrong thing. If you embrace it, it is not to make yourself holy. It is to show yourself up for what you are. And when you realize what you are, you say, Oh, now I understand why the baby came in the manger. What a strange place for God to show up, incidentally. Who'd ever look for God in amongst all those donkeys and stuff?

Who'd ever look for God on a cross, a bloodied mass of humanity? What is that about? It's about the promise. And surely the reason why so many are able to wander aimlessly in and out of corridors such as our own, and we are not immune from this, is one of two reasons. Either they have never had the lid taken off their respectability to show them what they're really like underneath—sinful, rebellious, guilty, and helpless. And so they remain perfectly happy with their lot. So they wander out, wander in, wander out, gone. It's an irrelevant story. Or, because having had the law preached to them so much, they've determined to embrace it and concluded that they are righteous on the strength of all they do.

And the third group comprises those who, having seen themselves in the law of God as helpless and in need of a Savior, have gone to Christ and found that the promise that was made to Abraham was offered to them. No strings attached. No rigmarole.

No regulations. Nothing in my hand I bring. Simply, Lord Jesus, may I receive your gift. The reason God gave the law was to convince you and me that we need a Savior to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. And that Savior is the Lord Jesus Christ. You're listening to Truth for Life Weekend with Alistair Begg.

Alistair returns in a moment to close today's program. We love sharing the Gospel message here at Truth for Life, and we want to invite you to join us in this effort by praying that God would use this program to bring unbelievers to faith, bring believers into a closer relationship with Jesus, and in the process to build up local churches. And if you'd like to tell others about Jesus but you don't know how to start, visit our Learn More page on the website. You'll find a couple of free videos that are six to seven minutes long. They're perfect for sharing with friends, or watch them yourself to get tips on how to talk to others about Jesus.

You can watch or share one or both of these videos as often as you'd like when you visit truthforlife.org slash learn more. Now as you attend your church this weekend, you may notice there's a pattern in your worship service. In many traditional churches, it's referred to as a liturgy. The book Be Thou My Vision is a book that applies a similar approach to our personal worship time by presenting a pattern of prayers and readings in a liturgical format. This is a 31-day devotional that guides you through a different set of prayers every day. For example, one day there may be a call to worship, followed by a prayer of adoration, reading from the law, an historic creed or catechism, a scripture reading, and then the Lord's Prayer. The book Be Thou My Vision establishes a routine by drawing from both Old and New Testament passages, from the writings of the church fathers dating all the way back to Augustine.

If you're looking for a way to deepen your devotional time, learn more about the book Be Thou My Vision at truthforlife.org. Now here is Alistair with prayer. Father, help us to make sense of this, we pray, for on it hangs our eternal destiny. O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood, to every believer the promise of God, the vilest offender who truly believes that moment from Jesus a pardon receives. Hear us then, O God, as we admit to you that we're more sinful than we are usually prepared to acknowledge, and as we recognize that in the Lord Jesus we are more loved and accepted than we ever dared imagine. So forgive us for all our attempts to polish ourselves up to make ourselves acceptable. And thank you for taking the lid off our respectability and showing us our need of Christ. And may the grace of the Lord Jesus and the love of God our Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit rest upon each one today and forever more. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for including us in your weekend. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, but what was the Son of God doing before he was born? Next weekend we'll examine that question, where did Jesus come from and why did he come? The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-10 04:41:03 / 2022-12-10 04:50:05 / 9

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