2019-12-22 – Galatians 3.19-4.7 – The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
2019-12-22 – Galatians 3.19-4.7 – The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
(Christmas Caroling tonight at 5pm, Youth Lock-in on New Years Eve at 9pm)
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
I just love singing Christmas carols together as the season is upon us now in full swing. Question: Who’s got their tree up? Who doesn’t? Who isn’t putting one up? Interesting historical fact is that Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition back in the 16th century. In fact, it’s believed that Martin Luther was the first person who had a lighted tree. The story goes that as he was walking home one winter’s night seeing the stars twinkling amidst the evergreen trees and was reminded of the verse from the sermon he was preparing - Isaiah 60:13 “The glory of Lebanon will come to you, the juniper, the fir and the cypress together, to adorn my sanctuary; and I will glorify the place for my feet”.
So to recapture that image he decided to set up a tree in the main room of his house with candles on it. I’m sure it was a beautiful sight, but it sounds extremely hazardous doesn’t it! Anybody going with the historical candle option this year on your tree? I think not, Lol. We got our tree up last week, and now it’s beautiful at night to see the room lit up just by the glow of the Christmas tree.
I guess that is one reason why they say Christmas is The Most Wonderful Time of the year, which is also the title of our message today.
Please turn in your Bibles to Galatians 3.19; pew Bibles pg. 1033 in God’s Inspired, Infallible and Living Word, but let us first start with Prayer.
Have you heard that song played yet? Andy Williams classic: It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Now I understand that it’s just a song, but I can imagine that it might cause some folks to question why Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, especially while they are in the throws of making it all happen. For that answer I thought it would be good for us to open our Bibles and look at this letter-book of Galatians written by saint Paul. Verse 19 starts out by giving us The Purpose of the Law. That may seem confusing or unrelated but I promise you will see its relevance as this message unfolds:
19 Why then was the law given? It was added for the sake of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise was made would come. The law was put into effect through angels by means of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator is not just for one person alone, but God is one. 21 Is the law therefore contrary to God’s promises? Absolutely not! For if the law had been granted with the ability to give life, then righteousness would certainly be on the basis of the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin’s power, so that the promise might be given on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ to those who believe. 23 Before this faith came, we were confined under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed. 24 The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. 25 But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus.
So in a nutshell, Before Christ came Moses laws, not just the 10 commandments, but all 613 of them were considered our Guardian. They were designed to keep order, to differentiate for us between what was right and what was wrong. But even more than that, they were designed to convince us that nobody could keep and maintain all their requirements. Effectively we were prisoners of the Law, held accountable under them, convicted of them, realizing that it was hopeless, we could never be good-enough to get into heaven, at least not on our own accord. But then at the right time, God sent Himself, in the form of His Son Jesus, to satisfy all the Law, and become the perfect sacrificial Lamb, paying for our sins, so that we might be Saved. Verse 27 continues:
27 For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ. 28 There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.
Chapter 4 continues this thought but now talking about all of the Jewish nation:
41 Now I say that as long as the heir is a child, he differs in no way from a slave, though he is the owner of everything. 2 Instead, he is under guardians and trustees [the Laws] until the time set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were in slavery under the elements of the world. 4 When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then God has made you an heir.
Now Galatians might not be the first book of Scripture you think of when it comes to our Christmas season. Most likely you think of Luke talking about the angels and shepherds or Matthew talking about the wise men, or even the prophecies of Jesus’ birth from Isaiah. However Galatians addresses this question of timing, and that’s what I want us to look at in these verses this morning. Galatians 4:4 says “When the time came to completion”, this refers to the moment in human history that was fixed and appointed by God when the time was just right for sending His Son into the world. This time we call Christmas, December 25th, is the day we set aside to remember Christ’s birth, because that one event changed everything in the most wonderful way imaginable.
Again the key verse is found in Galatians 3:23-24 Paul wrote “Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith”. In fact, that verse is saying the law was like a prison, or that the law was like a jailer keeping us captive and behind bars until the coming faith was revealed in Jesus.
If you walked out the door of our church after service today and asked the first person you meet how they can go to heaven when they die, what are they most likely going to say? Probably something like – “live as good of a life as you can, or do lots of good deeds for people, or try your best to be a decent person”. Those are the typical things you’d hear. It’s that man-made system of works that’s trying to answer the impossible question, what must I do? Even religious folks might ponder things like: “How often do I need to go to church? How much money should I give to charity? How kind do I have to be to others? How many times should I forgive others? What happens when I give in to temptation? How many sins are too many, and when do I cross the line?” These questions are what most people struggle with today, and I would argue that these questions are what the law of the Old Testament or even the general moral law of humanity causes people to wrestle with, wondering how good is good enough for God.
It is a sad struggle indeed, but I will suggest to you today, that the reason Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year because that’s when it all changed. Christmas communicates now a radically different message, a freeing message, because Christmas says that the time has come for Christ to arrive who fulfills the law for us as we turn to Him in faith.
Christmas says to the Christian that we no longer need to be slaves to the Law. We no longer fret the works-based mental struggle, hoping we’ve been good enough, that instead we can become adopted sons and daughters of God now, airs of the throne, heaven bound, because Jesus Christ was the Perfect Savior and He paid the fine of sin on our behalf.
Now look at Philippians 2:5-7. It says “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness”. So The Son of God was made like us. He was born of a woman, by a mom, just like you and I were. The Son of God entered our human existence, breathed our air, walked our ground, ate our food, cried our tears. He came here to live and to experience life just like we do.
When Christ entered the world, He came to a place that had some of the smelliest, filthiest and most uncomfortable conditions imaginable. And that is part of the wonder of His divine grace isn’t it? Jesus set His majesty aside for a time and completely humbled Himself on our behalf. And because of that, Jesus was obligated like everyone else back then to keep the Old Testament covenant Law. He wasn’t exempt from it or somehow given privileged “platinum status” because He was the Son of God. Instead He perfectly kept the law, He did everything right. He always obeyed; He was always honest, He always loved others.
Look at what it says in 1 Peter 2:22, “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls”. Or perhaps you can consider
Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin”. Every temptation you’ve felt is something Jesus also experienced, He’s been there, He’s stood where you’ve stood, faced what you’ve faced, He understands. But where you and I so easily give in to temptations, He withstood them.
There was never a moment where Jesus compromised, never a moment where He sinned. Instead He lived the perfect life that you and I never did, the perfect life you and I never could live. And His divine purpose for doing all this is spelled out in John 3:17-18, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son”.
And that’s what’s so truly wonderful about Christmas time, Jesus has come here not to condemn us, but to save us!
The message of Christmas says that you no longer have to be a slave to your sins, realizing that you’ll never live a good enough life to fulfill the law on you own, rather you can become His adopted child because the Law has already fulfilled by the Son Himself.
Jesus came down to the common people to bring them His glorious salvation. The picture of the infant Son of God tolerating a stable’s dirt and foul odors is a fitting metaphor for the later scene of the Savior bearing the stench of our sin as He died at Calvary. This was truly amazing grace He demonstrated, and His birth, life, mission and purpose is much worthy of our recognition. That’s why Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, because it proclaims the Good News that you have a Father GOD and Savior who was willing to do all that for you and I.
So the question now before you is, will you continue to live your life in that enslaving and vicious cycle of trying to do enough good things to make God happy, trying to prove yourself to Him and earn your way to heaven? Or will you surrender all your efforts to Him, realizing they’ll never be good enough, and Jesus is all you really need. Put your faith in Jesus. Turn to Him in faith.
Christmas declares the wonderful message that God has sent His Son into the world, in order to take away our sins and transform us into a real and everlasting relationship with Him. Christmas is rightfully one of our greatest celebrations. To know that I am a son of God right now fills me with such gratitude and joy. Knowing that God became like me 2,000 years ago so that I could become more like Him today, brings me much confidence and peace, especially during Christmas time. That’s why this truly is the most wonderful time of the year. And that’s what we want to remember this morning at Orion First Baptist church.
Would you please now stand and pray with me as we close.