The Purpose of Advent
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The Purpose of Advent

1 John 3:1–10  (ID: 1163)

What is Christmas really about? What is the cause for all the celebration? Alistair Begg explains that Christmastime is more than just “the most wonderful time of the year.” Jesus Christ was born to take away our sins, to destroy the works of the devil, to make the Father known, and to prepare for His own return.

Sermon Transcript: Print

Shall we take our Bibles and turn again to 1 John 3 initially this morning? Shall we bow for prayer just for a moment?

Our God and our Father, we pray this morning that as we come to territory which for many of us has been familiar since our childhood, we may have a special enduement of your Spirit to speak and to hear, to respond in a way that honors you. For Jesus’ sake we ask it. Amen.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to give my reaction to a question. The question, if I remember it accurately, was, “How in our increasingly secular age can we sustain the true value, or the true meaning, of our religious celebrations?” And as I attempted to answer that question, I tried to point out that if we’re going to sustain meaning, it is vital that, first of all, we understand the nature and the significance of that which we are endeavoring to sustain.  It’s very difficult to sustain something when we don’t know what we’re talking about in the first place.

And sadly, that is, I believe, the case when we turn to one of this the most significant aspects of the Christian faith—namely, the celebration of Christmas. It seems to me that many of the preoccupations of our day regarding whether we can have little cradles in the Main Street or whether we can’t is not actually germane to the substance of the issue, and that in many cases it is merely the catering to the sentimentality of many people and in fact does very, very little to sustain true meaning, because it only helps to paint over in the minds of most the true nature of the purpose of the advent of the Lord Jesus Christ. And as is true in so many other areas, it would perhaps not be misguided to say that in this realm confusion also reigns supreme.

Adults who, with the mastery of the English language to one degree or another, have become fairly able at disguising their ignorance are not matched by their children and by youngsters. Children, it would appear, are quite uninhibited in sharing both their supposed wisdom and the essence of their ignorance. And some time ago in a magazine, I discovered the quotes of children in relation to Christmas, some of which I’d shared with you before, and others I want to remind you of now.

Little children were asked by a lady, “What was the purpose of Christ coming? What is the significance of Christmas?” And here are a selection from them: A little boy called Tom, aged six, simply said, “Christmas is a special night.” David, aged eight, pointed out, “There’s nothing in the Bible about Christmas cards.” Presumably, he’d heard his father saying that about five days before Christmas as his mother sat at the kitchen table with great boxes of the things, wondering what to do with them. And every time another card came in from somebody that she hadn’t sent one to, she immediately sat down and said, “There’s nothing in the Bible about Christmas cards.” Well, that had obviously registered in young David’s mind. Katie, a perceptive girl of the age of five, said, “Turkeys hate Christmas.” A little friend of hers who was obviously into fashion said, “As far as I’m concerned, Father Christmas wears too much red.” And a little girl called Tessa said, “I’d like Father Christmas to take my brother away.” A sensitive wee boy called Edward, aged eight, said, “You should do something nice at Christmas for old ladies, like cover their legs up with a rug.” And Anthea, aged eleven—and I’ll quit at this one—said, “I think Jesus would be upset if he knew what went on at Christmas.” And to Anthea, aged eleven, we say, “He does, and he doubtless is.”

Now, children are quite up front about it. And we may smile and even chuckle condescendingly from the vantage point of adulthood while at the same time ignoring the possibility that we would fare very little better in attempting to answer the question “What was the purpose of the advent?” or “Why did Jesus Christ come?”

Jesus Came to Take Away Our Sins

Now, I want to allow the Scriptures this morning to answer this question in a fourfold way, which is noted on the outline for us, looking first of all at 1 John 3:5, which we have before us: “But you know that he appeared so that”—purpose—“he might take away our sins.” What is the purpose of the advent? Why is it that there is cause for celebration in our hearts this morning? Why do we anticipate the events of the next few days with such relish? For the believer, it is the deep awareness that first of all, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to take away our sins.

When we read the Gospel writers, we discover the truth of this fact to be at the very heart of all that they’re saying. Let me rehearse them for you—verses you will remember. Matthew records the words of the angel to Joseph. Matthew 1:21, he says to Joseph, “When this baby comes and is born, you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”[1] Luke provides the account of the message given by the angels to the shepherds, in what we might regard as the inaugural Christmas concert, with the angelic hosts singing. And the message of the angels was simply this: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”[2] When you go to John’s Gospel, and he begins from a different vantage point completely, and he begins to highlight the commencement of the earthly ministry of Christ, you’ll remember he gives to us the words of John the Baptist as he turns to those who’d followed him, and he says, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”[3] And so it is that John, writing as an old man in his first letter here, is not somehow introducing a note with which the readers of the Gospels were unfamiliar, but rather, he is rehearsing and reemphasizing a vital truth.

Now, if we say this morning that in the incarnation God has shown his love for us, then what we say is accurate, but it is insufficient. If we say of the incarnation, or suggest, that God became man merely to show us the mess that we were in, then what we say is not insufficient; it is totally inaccurate. And so, we have to search amongst the biblical record to lay hold on these divine necessities. Perhaps Paul, in his great treatise in the book of Romans, stated it perfectly when in Romans 5:8 he speaks of the demonstration of God’s love for us in these terms: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this”—not that he sent Jesus as a baby in Bethlehem, the memory of which should create a sentimental response in our lives, but he demonstrated “his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

And I want to say this morning, especially to us as believers: let us lay hold on this again with renewed joy and gratitude. Let us realize that those of our friends who are a little more open, perhaps, to the Christian message because of the time of Christmas are men and women, neighbors and friends, school buddies, shopkeepers, whose minds are blind to the truth of God’s Word, who are living, as it were, with a spiritual blindfold wrapped right around their head. And it will be of very little evangelistic significance for us to continue them in the awareness, misguided as it is, that what we have in Christmas is nothing more than a demonstration of God’s love, when in point of fact, the demonstration of God’s love can only be explained in the fact that Christ came to “take away our sins.” 

Now, you see, it is not too popular a message. Because if we are pressed to the conclusion that Christ came to take away our sins, then it is inevitably logical that we have sins which need to be taken away.  Then we are confronted with the question “Have my sins been taken away?” And if the response to that is no, then we are made painfully aware of the fact that we are then still in our sins. And so, that is why the message, while it strings a little chord in our hearts, could never be regarded as revolutionary.

There is not a man or woman alive today who would be prepared to say, “I have never done wrong.” There is not a man or woman alive today who doesn’t know what it is to say, “I wish I hadn’t done that.”  And we live in a very respectable area of society, if we want to regard America at large as that. We live in a unique opportunity amongst many people, and we need the wisdom of the Spirit of God to respond to questions, to point out, as people say, “Do you really believe in Jesus?” to be able to say, “Well, it depends what you mean, ‘Do I believe in Jesus?’ I mean, do I believe that he existed? Yes. Do I believe that he came? Yes. Do I believe him to be the Savior of the world? Yes. And I’d like to tell you why.”

Somebody wrote me a letter this week. I hope to share it on Tuesday night at a function I’ve been asked to attend. And in the letter, a man who’s an architect, he said of his experience of coming to faith in Christ about eighteen months ago now that he is thankful that God brought him in his life to the place where he acknowledged that he was hopelessly sinful, because it was only when he came to that point that he understood the discovery of a Savior in Jesus Christ.

Until we face the reality of the problem of sin, then the necessity of its cure seems to be superficial.

And the reason that we are having such minimal response many times is because we do not address the question of sin in our proclamation of the gospel.  So we ask people to respond to Jesus at a level that the Scriptures never, ever do. We may be respectable this morning, but we have impure thoughts. We may be very financially well-to-do, but we know what it is to have bitter words. We know what it is to have an unholy life. We know what it is for our relationships to be in tatters. And the Word of God says, “Here is good news: Christ came to take away our sins.” Until we face the reality of the problem, then the necessity of its cure seems to be superficial. 

Now, did Jesus mention this? He certainly did. And in the experience of one little man called Zacchaeus, it came home with great relevance one day. This man discovered why Jesus came. There’s no reason for us to believe that he knew very much, apart from the historical record passed along of the events in Bethlehem. But on that day, recorded for us in Luke 19, when he climbed up a tree to find out who Jesus was, his life was turned upside down. Because he, thinking that he would have a wee peek at Jesus, discovered that Jesus had a divine appointment to keep with him. And “when Jesus reached the spot…” What spot? The spot that from eternity past he knew he would reach. He looked up and he said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” And as salvation dawns in the life of Zacchaeus, the Lord Jesus comes, saying, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”[4] It’s only the sick that need a doctor.[5] It’s only the sinner that needs a Savior. Why did Christ come? First, to take away our sin.

Jesus Came to Destroy Satan’s Work

Secondly, why did he come? To destroy the devil’s work. In 1 John 3:8: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” I must confess that I’d never really thought of the advent in these terms until about a week or so ago. It may have passed my mind, but I never really considered it, that the arrival of Christ in Bethlehem was to signal the beginning of the destruction of the devil’s work. 

In the Old Testament, the devil is a shadowy figure, just as is, in the Old Testament, the Lord Jesus Christ is painted so often between the lines of Scripture. When we reach the New Testament and when we study it, we discover that Christ’s coming, if you like, drew Satan out from the shadows and into the open. And in many, many passages, Satan or the devil is revealed as the instigator of sin and sorrow.

Any consideration of the devil and his works must always guard against two extremes. That is, first of all, ignoring him altogether. People say, “There is no devil today. I don’t believe in a personal devil. You must be weird.” And so they ignore him altogether. Or the other extreme is of becoming totally preoccupied with who he is and what he’s done.  Both of those extremes are wrong, and the Scriptures give us the perfect balance. The very real source of the power of the Evil One should only ever be considered in light of the victory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The writer to the Hebrews puts it in this way of Jesus: he says, “By his death he might destroy” in his coming “him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil.”[6] He might destroy the power of the devil.

Is there a devil today? If there isn’t, would you tell me who’s doing what’s going on? You tell me who champions the hateful, vile filth that gushes out of so much music and into the hearts of our young people? Will you tell me who it is who has all these churches where a Bible is never cracked and the gospel is never proclaimed? Will somebody rise up and tell me who it is that is ultimately responsible for the destruction of family life? Will someone stand and explain away the horrific statistics of abortion? Will someone rise up and explain it all away?

If the devil is no longer around, then who’s carrying on his work? If the devil is not around and there is no sin and there is no hell, then there is no reason to believe that there is a Jesus or there is a heaven or there is salvation.  And this morning, some of us in various aspects of our life are very aware of the conflict in which we live and that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against … spiritual wickedness”[7] in the heavenly places, and we need to remind ourselves in the midst of the struggle that part of the purpose of Christ coming was to destroy the devil’s works—to defeat him, to lay him low, to prepare him for final destruction.

Dr. Raymond Brown, who is the present principal of Spurgeon’s College in London, tells in one of his commentaries of how he was a postman while he was a student. I don’t know how it is in America here, but at home, one of the jobs that you can get as a student during the Christmas vacation is to be a postman. And it’s a lot of fun—at least I thought it was a lot of fun when I did it. And you just go around, and you get a look in people’s living room windows, houses you’ve often wondered about, because in Britain, you walk right up to the front door and put it through the letter box. Very humane system, especially in the cold, for the people in the house.

But anyway, Raymond Brown had one particular house that he came to on his route where there was the most ferocious dog. He described it as ferocious, anyway, and I have no reason to doubt his word. And the dog scared the daylights out of him. So he opened the gate, heard his horrible snarls, closed the gate immediately, and went on to the next house, putting the letters for the previous house into the next-door neighbor’s house, figuring that that man would then be able to take them back to the neighbor, and presumably, he was better capable of the dog than Raymond Brown was.

Nevertheless, he was on a circular route, and so the next day at Christmas—you go back regularly—and next day, he goes back again, and still the horrible, snarling dog of which he was afraid. Eventually—I don’t recall the details of the story—but eventually, he said, “This is crazy, I must go in.” And as he went in and went ahead for the door, the dog made a great bound towards him, and as he stepped back, he discovered that it was chained to a stake in the middle of the courtyard, and the stake was in concrete, and the big, ugly dog could make all the noise it wanted to but could not reach him.

Now, my friends, that is the picture of Christ’s victory in Calvary over the Evil One. He is chained to a stake which was put outside the city walls of Jerusalem. And on that chain he may snarl and roar and may make noise and grab for us, but Christ came to destroy the devil’s works. And in 1 John 5:18, I think it is, as I read it—you can check and see—“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one [does not touch] him.”

Now, this morning we need, some of us, to have that reinforced in our experience. Who is the devil, and what are his works? Well, you know, if you ask the question, “Who is Jesus, and what did he do?” one of the ways of answering that is to look at the titles of Christ in the Gospels. And the same thing is true in looking at the titles given to the devil. I can’t rehearse them all, but let me just illustrate for you from the very name devil itself. The word devil comes from the root Greek word “to throw,” and it came to mean, in the process of time, throwing in the sense of slandering. And so the devil is the one who throws slanderous statements. The devil trades in falsehood. The devil twists the truth about Christ, twists the truth about the character of God, so that in the world at large , people say, “Well, I think there’s a God, I know there may be a God,” but they don’t know about God, they don’t know about Christmas, they don’t know about Jesus. Why is that? Because the devil has done a devilish, hellish job in inoculating them against reality by giving them a little taste of unreality. So countless people—countless people in America—are perhaps in a far more vulnerable position in light of eternity than are some people whom we regard to be far less better off than we are in the remote regions of the world. Because at least they have never heard, or what they have heard has not been dissipated by so much that is spurious. His strategy is as a slanderer.

There can be little doubt that some of our irrational fears, our doubts, and our thoughts may only be traced to a dark hole in which Satan lies in ambush.

Satan. It has been suggested that the root idea of this word conveys the sense of someone lying in ambush. And that certainly fits with the experience of the Christian’s conflict. Do you know the experience of being involved perhaps even in ministry, of being involved with your family, of even reading your Bible, and the most heinous thought you’ve ever imagined came right into your mind? Do you know that experience? Well, I do. Do you know its source? From the pit of hell. Where do you think these things come from? They are the fiery darts of the Evil One. He sows it in the realm of temptation, he sows it in the realm of disruption, he sows it in the realm of slandering and of abuse, and he would come to crush us at the very apex of our usefulness. There can be little doubt this morning that some of our irrational fears, our doubts, and our thoughts may only be traced to a dark hole in which Satan lies in ambush.  So don’t be surprised by these things, dear friends. Far from them being evidence of your nonrelationship with Jesus Christ, many times they are an evidence of it.

He is the deceiver. He is the accuser. He is the liar. He is the hinderer. And he blinds the minds of the unbeliever and seeks to cloud the mind of the believer with the reminders of their guilt and failure.

But he’s finished. Did you get that? He’s finished.

Do you have this process with your garbage? It goes under the sink initially, it goes from being under the sink to being outside the back door, in the garage, then it goes from being in the garage to being down at the end of the driveway, and then unspeakable things happen to it when that yellow thing comes eventually. I want to tell you that there is a very real sense in which that is the experience of the Evil One as he is chained to the cross of Christ—that in the purposes of God, which reach their fulfillment described for us in Revelation 20:10, the devil has been put out at the back door, awaiting final destruction on the day of Christ’s revelation, and so that now he is dethroned and he is defeated, but he has not been destroyed.

And that is why we have all the skirmishes. He cannot prevent you from becoming a believer. He knows you’re in Christ, but he says, “I will take that individual, and to the best of my possibilities, I will render him useless.” He cannot prevent the church from going on, but he says, “I will do everything I can to destroy and to disrupt.” And this morning, as we think of the arrival of Jesus Christ, perhaps in a way we’ve never thought before, let us realize this: that the Lord Jesus came not only to take away our sins, but also he appeared “to destroy the devil’s work.”

It’s interesting that in John 17, the Lord Jesus prays not that we will be taken out of the world but that we will be kept safe from the Evil One.[8]

Jesus Came to Make the Father Known

Thirdly, the Lord Jesus Christ came to make the Father known. We have to move out of 1 John 3; I would like to have stayed in it, but we have to go back into John’s Gospel for this.

One day in the art class, as the teacher was going round to the various paintings looking at what the children were doing, she asked a boy what it was he was painting. And the wee boy said to her, “Well, I’m painting a picture of God.” “But,” said the teacher, “we don’t know what God is like.” “Well,” said the wee boy, “come back when I’ve finished, and you’ll find out.”

And the arrival of the Lord Jesus in Bethlehem painted finally on the canvas of history any question marks that remained in the minds of men and women about what God was like—that God suddenly, as it were, took that brush and painted right across eternity and into the view of time what he was really like. And the arrival of Jesus in the events that we read earlier in our worship point once and for all to the futility of trying to make God in our own image. And as the Lord Jesus appeared on the stage of human history, he rendered obsolete the various spurious suggestions as to the nature of God.

Again, the writer to the Hebrews put it in this way: in Hebrews 1, he says, “In many and various ways God spoke of old … by the prophets.” In other words, he spoke with a diversified word. “But in these last days he has spoken to us [in his] Son,”[9] in a personified Word—that God has woven his character and his nature all the way through the pages of the Old Testament, and now here in Bethlehem, the one long awaited, the light of the nations, has appeared. And out of that tiny little baby will come the manifestation of the reality of God.

You see, if you trace it through the Old Testament, you’ll discover that prior to the incarnation, there was a growing intellectual apprehension of what God was like. The Jewish people, by the time you get into the Minor Prophets, knew more about the nature of God than ever had been known in earlier biblical history. They understood that he was a holy God. They understood that he was mighty, powerful, omniscient, and so on. They understood all of that in their heads. But they were morally monstrous. So they had a great intellectual apprehension of God, but at the same time, the prophets constantly were telling them, “You better get back on line. You’re out of line, you’re morally wrong, you are sinful.”

If you trace history, the development of human history, from the time of Christ up to our present day, you will discover that the exact same thing is true. There is an increased intellectual apprehension about God, so much so that man in his discoveries about who or what God might be has either removed God completely or has reduced God to a nonmoral being who cannot possibly be known, who is not interested in our lives, and who couldn’t interfere if he chose to. So in other words, we have happily removed God from our experience. When you remove God from the world, then you need to explain the world in some other way. And so we have all the explanations of the origin of the universe and of why we’re here today and of where we’re going, and history is cyclical.

Now, from BC and AD, across time, the Lord Jesus straddles it, as it were, like a giant colossus. And this is what he says: “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”[10] “He who has seen me has seen God.” Did you get that? That the baby suckled at the breast of Mary, rocked to sleep in the arms of Joseph, was God, and remains God.  As Wesley put it, “Our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man.”[11]

Do you know Jesus Christ this morning? I don’t mean as a figure of history. Did you know that Jesus is God Almighty? He is not the Jesus of Christian Science. He is not the Jesus of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. He is not the Jesus of Mormonism. He is not the Jesus of any of the cults. He is the almighty God, Father, Counselor, creator of the ends of the earth, who never grows weary. Of his understanding, there is no searching.[12] And in that Bethlehem manger lay God, wiggling his toes.  Any wonder that the shepherds went out and spread the word? Any wonder that the wisdom of his day bowed in worship before him? And when we take the message of the advent of Jesus Christ back to our society—not as some helpless wriggling infant but as a Christ who is glorified in heaven and rules over Moscow and Peking and London and Washington—then once again the wisdom of our world will bow before his glory.

You see, in fairness to many, they don’t know why Christ came. They’ve been inoculated against it by thirty years of Christmas services and apple cider and funny-shaped cookies, and they face hell at the end of their lives.

Jesus Came to Prepare for a Second Advent

Finally, the Lord Jesus Christ came not only to take away our sins, to destroy the devil’s work, and to make the Father known—to show what it was in God’s power, in his holiness, in his love, in his essential being, in such a way that we might look and discover—but finally, to prepare for a second advent.

Perhaps on another occasion I’m gonna turn this sermon into a series, but for now, let me just encapsulate this fourth and final part of the answer to our question. Back in 1 John 3… You can see I wanted to stay in 1 John 3, but I couldn’t for that other part. One John 3:2: “Dear friends, now we are,” present tense, “children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears…” Now, when will this be? It will be at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Listen to the words of Jesus himself in John 14: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there [you] may be also.”[13] Listen to the words of the angels as they address the men of Galilee in the first chapter of Acts: “Why do you stand there gazing up into heaven?” Incidentally, that’s a word that needs to be sounded to some of the crystal-ball gazers of the evangelical world in our day, to some of the almanac maniacs. “Why do you stand there gazing up into heaven?” It’s a good question. The inference is, “Don’t you have work to do? I mean, did the Lord Jesus say, ‘Stand and gaze up into heaven’?” No, he didn’t. He said, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”[14] And if we’re making disciples of all nations, we don’t have time to stand there gazing up into heaven. “Why do you stand there gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come again in the same way that you have seen him go.”[15]

As surely as Jesus came in Bethlehem, he will come in glory.

The writer to the Hebrews, Hebrews 9:28: “He,” Jesus, “will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” The New Testament literally pulsates with this great assurance, which is a vital part of the Christian gospel. It is as vital an aspect of the message of Christmas as is the cradle in Bethlehem. Do you realize that? Because if Jesus Christ is not coming back again, then one in four verses in the New Testament is lying to us; the angels were wrong, and Jesus was misguided in his statement in John 14. And you see, the sneaking suspicion has got into the minds of many that he’s not coming back again, and therefore they will never have to face him. And therefore, they can retreat to the year X and worship at a cradle because they’ve no possibility, they believe, of seeing him face-to-face. But as surely as he came in Bethlehem, he will come in glory. 

I remember Sue and I, before we were married, sitting in a restaurant in Philadelphia that we worked in as waiters in the summer of ’74. And we had a girl there that we worked with during the week, and we’d gone in there to eat. And as she stood at our table, we were sharing Christ with her, and I remember, as one of the two of us mentioned something about the fact that Jesus Christ had a second coming to which we looked forward, she said—and I can almost quote her—she said, “Don’t worry me with the second coming. I haven’t worked the first coming out yet.” And you know, this morning, the fact of the matter is that you can’t work out the first coming without realizing about the second coming. And the second coming has no place without the first coming.

And the Lord Jesus is coming back. He’s coming back. He’s coming back, or “we are of all men most miserable.”[16] He’s coming back, or Christmas is a joke. He’s coming back, or the Bible isn’t true.

Let me summarize it now, with a point of application, in reverse order.

D: Why did Jesus Christ come? To prepare for the second advent. Here’s my question: Are you ready for his coming? When he sees you, will he take you in his hand and say, “Friend,” or will he say, “Depart from me. I never knew you”?[17] Are you a true believer?

You say, “Well, I signed a card, I raised my hand.” I didn’t ask you about that. I asked you, “Are you a true believer?” What is a true believer? You read it in 1 John 3. A true believer does not continue in sin.[18] A true believer is not someone who is perfect, but a true believer does not continue in sin. In the life of a true believer, sin’s dominion has been broken. We are now a new man in Christ. And the evidence of that is not something that we pull from our inside pocket, but the evidence of that is a transformed life, that we are growing in the knowledge and loveliness of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we are not, then we raise the question as to whether we are really Christ’s, and therefore if we are ready to meet him.

Why did Jesus Christ come? To make the Father known. Can we ask ourselves, “Do you know the Father?” Do you know God personally, progressively?

Why did Jesus come? To defeat Satan’s works. Are you living in the light of that victory?

Why did Jesus come? To take away our sins. “Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? … When the Bridegroom cometh, will your robes be white?”[19] Will they be white?

I hope that these thoughts are helpful in bringing some to faith, renewing others in our love for Jesus, and just giving us another little glimpse of the fact that when we sing the Christmas carols, we are touching upon the great realities of our Christian faith, and that we may worship him even better this year than we’ve ever done before.

[1] Matthew 1:21 (paraphrased).

[2] Luke 2:10–11 (NIV 1984).

[3] John 1:29 (NIV 1984).

[4] Luke 19:5, 10 (NIV 1984).

[5] See Matthew 9:12; Luke 5:31.

[6] Hebrews 2:14 (NIV 1984).

[7] Ephesians 6:12 (KJV).

[8] See John 17:15.

[9] Hebrews 1:1–2 (RSV).

[10] John 14:9 (RSV).

[11] Charles Wesley, “Let Earth and Heaven Combine” (1745).

[12] See Isaiah 40:28.

[13] John 14:3 (KJV).

[14] Matthew 28:19 (NIV 1984).

[15] Acts 1:11 (paraphrased).

[16] 1 Corinthians 15:19 (KJV).

[17] Matthew 7:23 (paraphrased).

[18] See 1 John 3:6, 9.

[19] E. A. Hoffman, “Are You Washed in the Blood?” (1878).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.