Wonderful Counselor — Part Two
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Wonderful Counselor — Part Two

From Series: A Child is Born

Isaiah 9:6  (ID: 2602)

Christianity affirms Christ’s atoning death as the only means of reconciliation between God and man. While this claim is offensive to many people, Alistair Begg explains, we cannot set aside this central pillar of theology. Without Christ as the cornerstone, Christianity collapses into merely a set of values or, at best, a guide for moral living. Jesus’ death and resurrection, though, is the good news of salvation for all who will come to Him and respond in faith.


Sermon Transcript: Print

And I invite you to turn to Isaiah chapter 9, which is page 489 in the church Bibles which are around you. Isaiah 9:1:

“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he”—that is, God—“humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan—

“The people walking in darkness
 have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
 a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
 and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
 as people rejoice at the harvest,
as men rejoice
 when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
 you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
 the bar across their shoulders,
 the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
 and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
 will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
 to us a son is given,
 and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
 Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
 Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
 there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
 and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
 with justice and righteousness
 from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
 will accomplish this.”

Amen.

Now we pray before we turn to the Bible:

Now, gracious Father, we pray that the Holy Spirit will be our teacher, so that the pages of the Bible might be illumined to us and that we might see your Son, the Lord Jesus, in all of this wonderful prophetic expectation, and that we might, in being encountered by him, come to bow down before him and acknowledge that he is Savior and Lord, and this to the praise of your name. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

A significant amount of buzz was generated during the past week when presidential hopeful Mitt Romney decided to take the opportunity to clarify his position as a Mormon. And in what essentially was a twenty-minute speech, he endeavored to stake his claim, as it were, in the issues of his presidential campaign and in the wider issues of faith and religion in America. I have no comment on that, and you wouldn’t be interested in it even if I did. My issue is not political at all, but it is, rather, an alarm that has raised for me both doctrinally and theologically.

In the hubbub which has ensued since the statement, the number of professed believing Christians and evangelicals have been summoned to the microphone in order to give their particular reaction to what’s going on. And some of you, along with me, will have watched the other evening when on one particular program, a prominent member of what we might refer to as the left-wing evangelical fringe—although I’m not sure that is a category, unless I just invented it, but I’m pretty certain that this man would be happy to be the president of it, if there is such a category—this member of the left-wing evangelical fringe berated his “fellow evangelicals” for having the temerity to suggest that Mormonism is a cult. What an embarrassing thing, he said, that it is evangelical Christians who are suggesting that somehow or another Mormonism is less than orthodox. At his side sat a representative of what we might reference as American fundamentalism. This particular individual wriggled in his chair, both literally and metaphorically, and made an abortive attempt to straddle the fence in between historic orthodox Christianity and the heretical notions that lie at the very root and heart of Mormonism.

Now, this for me is the issue here. It’s an issue about the church. It’s an issue about God’s kingdom. It’s an issue about whether Christians—professing Christians in America—actually have their heads on their shoulders or not. It is whether people are caught up in some kind of emotional surge, or whether they understand that Christianity has been hammered out since Christ on the anvil of dialogue, debate, affirmation, persecution, and so on, so that the creedal statements of Christianity fashioned in the early centuries have stood the test of time.

And for me the question rises: Are the leaders—whether they are the leaders or the wannabe leaders—of contemporary evangelicalism, are they prepared, wittingly or unwittingly, to sacrifice biblical orthodoxy on the altar of political expediency? In other words, is the political agenda of such significance that the foundational theological building blocks of Christianity may be set aside in pursuit of a political end? That’s the question. Is contemporary American Christianity so naive as to believe that because a person employs orthodox language, they are ipso facto equally orthodox in what they mean by the use of that language?

You’ll recall that some months ago, in introducing our studies, we noted that it is possible for Christianity to be removed from its theological, biblical underpinnings and to be collapsed into values and externalism. And on that basis, it is possible to join hands with all kinds of people, provided they share our values. But those values for the Christian are built upon theological foundation blocks, and these theological foundation blocks, when removed, take one out of the realm of biblical and historic orthodoxy.

Of course, the interest in being united with so many is an easy interest and an easy involvement, especially when such individuals share our political agenda. But if we’re going to take our stand on historical, biblical affirmations of Christianity, then we should expect there to be significant disagreement—not a disagreement that is sought or promoted, but a disagreement that is inevitable. The inevitable disagreements that come about as a result of introducing definition, of introducing clarity, of defining terminology, and not allowing things to mean whatever we want them to mean or to accept that they mean what other people say they mean by the use of them.

Now, this is in no way directed to Mormonism per se. It is the same clarity that we’ve evinced many times when we’ve said, for example, that Hindus believe that god has been incarnated on multiple occasions. Christianity says that the incarnation is a unique, unrepeatable event. Therefore, we cannot both be right. Islam says that for a prophet of God to die upon a cross as Jesus did is a horrible blasphemy. Christianity says that that dying of Jesus on the cross is the very heart of all that we have come to believe concerning who Jesus is and what he’s come to do. My Jewish friends who are orthodox still await a Messiah, therefore disavowing our profession of Jesus being the Messiah. We cannot both be right.

Now, this may come on our ears difficult just because of the environment in which we live. Some of us, without even realizing it, have imbibed the spirit of Humpty Dumpty—the spirit of Humpty Dumpty in Alice through the Looking-Glass, which you may remember from childhood. And on one occasion, in the dialogue between Humpty Dumpty and Alice, it goes as follows: “‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.’”[1] Let me say that to you again: “‘When I use a word,’ said Humpty Dumpty in a rather scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean—[nothing] more [or] less.’” And Alice, of course, comes back to him and says, “You can’t have that, Humpty Dumpty. You’re not able to make those distinctions in the use of language.” But the spirit of Humpty Dumpty is, I suggest to you, alive and well in contemporary evangelicalism, where words, theological terms, definitive issues that have been fought for and died for in two thousand years of Christianity are apparently up for discussion when it comes to the matters that are before us.

Salvation has the Father in its planning, has the Son in its procuring, and has the Spirit in its applying—each member of the Trinity involved in the fulfilling of the eternal counsel of God’s will.

Biblical Christianity affirms that Jesus is God. He’s the second person of the Trinity. He has always existed and was never created. As the second person of the Trinity, he is coequal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. The one God is triune—namely, one God in three persons, not three gods. That is historic Christianity—orthodox, historic Christianity. Here is Mormonism: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate gods. Jesus was created as a spirit child by the father and mother in heaven through sexual union between Elohim and Mary.

Now, do you understand me? This has got nothing to do with politics. My concern in listening to the ensuing debate and the stuff that comes out of the mouths of our so-called evangelical leaders—my concern is that thousands and hundreds of thousands of Christians may be, because they are so horribly untaught, about to sell their birthright for a mess of pottage;[2] about to give away areas of foundational Christianity for which our forefathers bled and died. That’s the issue.

And you say, “Well, that’s a very interesting issue, but how do you get there from Isaiah chapter 9?” Well, with relative ease. I didn’t invent this. Because Isaiah chapter 9, in this historic prophecy, takes us to the very heart of the matter. Somebody might be tempted to say, “You know, this is not a gospel issue, and we want to be about the matters of the gospel.” Let me tell you, this is a gospel issue. Because when you analyze the good news of the Lord Jesus, the truth of the Trinity provides both its framework and its foundation. What is the good news? That God has provided for us salvation through his one and only Son, and that all who believe in him may have their sins forgiven, may be indwelt by the third person of the Trinity, and may look forward to eternity with him.

“Well,” you say, “what framework is there, there?” Well, because this salvation has the Father in its planning, has the Son in its procuring, and has the Spirit in its applying—each member of the Trinity involved in the fulfilling of the eternal counsel of God’s will to put together a people that are his very own, from every nation, tribe, people, and language. In other words, when you get to Isaiah chapter 9, you arrive at the place, in the hymn writer’s words, where our God is “contracted to a span” and “incomprehensibly made man.”[3]

It’s really important that what we’re saying, we understand, so that when we say what we say, we know what we mean. And the longer I go as a pastor, the more alarmed I become, because I am not sure that my class can pass their test. And I don’t know how much of that owes to the inability of the teacher and how much to the unwillingness of the pupil to take this seriously and do their homework and understand what we’re on about. I can’t answer for you. I wheel my own wheelbarrow. I bear my own burdens.

Now, two questions is all we will have time for and hopefully all that is necessary in order to tackle the first of the four names that are given to this amazing child. Remember we said last time that God’s answer to all of the tyranny and oppression and darkness and so on is to be found in a child—that the deliverance which brings joy to the people of God isn’t something vague, but it is something that has happened in a moment in time, at a definite place, in the birth of this child that is prophesied here in Isaiah, not only in chapter 9 but also elsewhere. Two questions: one is “What does this mean?” and the other question is “Why does this matter?” What does this mean, and why does it matter?

The Meaning of “Wonderful Counselor”

Now, we’ll be helped by turning back in our Bibles to the Psalms, and to Psalm 78, simply because of the adjective “wonderful.” In the original, it’s not an adjective. It’s an abstract. It’s made an adjective in our English version in order to help us. And in Psalm 78, “the men of Ephraim,” in verse 9, “though [they were] armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle.” Why? Well, “they did[n’t] keep God’s covenant,” and they “refused to live by his law.” Is there a reason why that happened? Apparently, verse 11, “they forgot what [God] had done.” Well, like what? Well, “the wonders he had shown,” the “miracles in the sight of their fathers.” And then he goes on to delineate the nature of these wonders: the dividing of the sea, the water stacked up like a wall made firm, the cloud pillar and the fiery pillar, and the rocks being split, in verse 15, and giving them “water as abundant as the seas.” They forgot the wonders he had shown them.

You see, they looked at these phenomena, and they said, “Who can part the sea?”

And someone said, “Well, only God can do that.”

“Did you see how the water stood up like a wall? It was almost as if it had been built as a wall. Who does that?”

“God.”

“Hey, Grandpa, how come every morning when we wake up, it’s as if that pillar of cloud is waiting for us?”

“It is.”

“Who does that, Grandpa?”

“God does that.”

“And at nighttime, the fiery pillar?”

“God does that.”

“Mom, what’s the deal with hitting the rock and getting water out of it—as much water as if it was the sea gushing? Who performs such wonders?”

“Only God.”

You remember in the ’60s we had a song:

Who took fish and bread,
Lonely people fed?
Who turned water into wine?
Who made well the sick?
Who made see the blind?
Who touched earth with feet divine?[4]

And the refrain was “Only Jesus, only Jesus.” Why? Because he is this Wonder Counselor.

Now, the Jewish mind, you see, was looking for the fulfillment of all the messianic promises. And when Isaiah takes and speaks as from God in this way and declares that this child who is to be born, a son, and “the government will be [up]on his shoulders,” it would be no surprise to them, really, to discover that he was described as this “Wonderful Counselor”—this one who defines, if you like, wonder in himself. They had already, in chapter 7, been told that the virgin would be with child and would bring forth this son, and he would be “Immanuel”[5]El being the name of God. It’s El that is used here in 9 as well: “God with us” in chapter 7, “God for us” in chapter 9.

In other words, when you take the extent of these prophetic words—you have the same in chapter 11—when you take the depth and the breadth of these prophetic statements, you realize that it takes the incarnation to fill it out and make sense of it. Because no one else that lived before the time of Isaiah would be able to fulfill all that was said of this child: “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, [the] Prince of Peace.” Who is this? That’s why the prophets were always looking forward.

Kings were known in some measure by their counselors. The extent of your authority and rule may be made apparent by the number of people you’re able to have around you as your advisers. So your stature is directly related to the people that you could call upon: an adviser for this, and an adviser for that, and an adviser for the next thing. What kind of king has no advisers? What kind of king has no counselors? This King. Isaiah 40:13:

Who has understood the mind of the Lord,
 or instructed him as his counselor?
Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him,
 [or] who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge
 or showed him the path of understanding?

The end of chapter 28, still in Isaiah, it says of this one, he is “wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.”[6] In the prophecy that opens chapter 11, you have the exact same thing fulfilled. What about this branch “from the stump of Jesse” that’s going to “bear fruit,”[7] and what will this person be like? Well, 11:2 tells us:

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
 the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
 the Spirit of counsel and of power,
 the Spirit of knowledge and … the fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

In other words, this is no ordinary child. This is the child with no beginning. This is the predicted child. This is the one in whose very essence wonder is defined. “Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles,”[8] to quote Fiddler on the Roof, is expressed in this prophecy of Isaiah.

Now, we can’t tease it out, because we don’t have time, but turn with me just once to Luke and to chapter 2. Jesus and his parents have gone to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. He’s twelve years old. You remember the story well, don’t you? Luke has recorded it for us. He told us that he was doing his Gospel, talking to eyewitnesses and servants, and after careful investigation, writing everything down in an orderly way.[9] And so, here we have part of his orderly account. Mary and Joseph head back. Jesus doesn’t go back; they go on their way, they turn around, they have to look for him, and when they didn’t find him, back to Jerusalem they came. Verse 46:

[And] after three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. [And] everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and [at] his answers. [And] when his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

“[Well,] why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Of course they didn’t! No more than she understood at the time of the birth, the angelic announcement. “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”[10] This sixteen-year old, or a seventeen-year old, or a fifteen-year old girl, and an angel comes? This is not theological lumber, folks. This is not a fairy tale that was invented at the start of the nineteenth century. No.

“Well,” you say, “well, I can’t get this. I can’t get to this. I can’t quantify it, nor can I encapsulate it in any way.” Well, you shouldn’t. Of course you can’t! No one can. And the very fact that it defies our attempts at that speaks to the wonder of it. Because all of these prophetic words are surrounded both by mystery and by the evidences of the supernatural, so that they are not irrational, but they are suprarational. And unless you read it, as it were, with your Old Testament eyes—unless you read it from the perspective of the Jewish mind—it is easy to go very quickly wrong. Because, remember, the Jew was looking for the consolation and the hope of Israel. They knew that there was one who was to come who would embody all of these things, who would fill out, if you like—flesh out—all of these messianic expectations. And their hope was not an abstraction, their hope was not an impersonality, but their hope was a person. And that’s what makes this so dramatic.

This child is the one who will deal with your distress, and with your darkness, and with your sin, and with your oppression, both then and now. Without that, what happens, again in Luke 2—but I said you would only have to turn there once, so you don’t have to go back, but you can find it later—without that, how do we explain what’s going on with old Simeon in Luke chapter 2, in the temple? Where when they bring the child Jesus into the temple to do for him after the custom of their culture, Simeon took the child in his arms and said…

I mean, you’ve taken a lot of babies in your arms, haven’t you? You said all kinds of things, like “Coochie-coo” and “Looks like his mom” and “Wow, what lovely eyes!” and “Was he breach?” You know, anything like that; it’s just, like, all kinds of things. But I bet you never took a child in your arms and said anything that even approaches to what Simeon said. Simeon took the child in his arms and said, “Lord God in heaven, Yahweh, you can let your servant now depart in peace for my eyes have seen your salvation, a light for the gentiles, and a hope for my people Israel.”[11] That’s what’s happening! That’s what’s happening!

This child is the one who will deal with your distress, darkness, sin, and oppression, both then and now.

“Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, [who] is Christ the Lord,”[12] who is Messiah Jesus. Yes! I was in a gas station in somewhere the other day, and as I was pumping gas, I turned around, and they had a sign in the window, and it said exactly that. That’s why it’s in my mind: “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, [who] is Christ the Lord,” and then underneath it said, “and this is what Christmas is all about.” And I knocked on the window and said, “Yay! Yay!” It is what Christmas is all about. And we dare not devalue it.

Have your eyes seen God’s salvation? You won’t get here by intellect. If you’re trying to do this mathematically, you can’t stay up late at night enough. It will not happen. When we sing that little song, “Open my eyes, Lord, I want to see Jesus,”[13] we’re not asking that we can see Jesus in his physical presence. Least I’m not. We’re recognizing that our eyes are darkened to who Jesus is, and it’s going to take the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, to open our eyes so that we can see Jesus for who he is. And when we see Jesus for who he is, then we say, “Jesus is Lord, and Jesus is Savior.” But until we do, we may continue to content ourselves with the fact that Jesus is a great teacher, or Jesus is a wonderful example, or Jesus is a whole host of things. Yes! And Jesus is a created being?

Why “Wonderful Counselor” Matters

Why does this matter? We’ll finish here. Why does it matter? Well, because of the darkness. What darkness? The darkness that’s outside, and the darkness that’s inside. “The people walking in darkness,” verse 2, “have seen a great light.” That darkness is emblematic of all the darkness within them. They were looking up and saw nothing. They were looking down and felt distressed. They were sorrowful. They were ignorant. They were sinful. “People walking in darkness” is an apt description of life lived without this Wonderful Counselor. And no matter how bright and breezy we may appear to be to our friends, the Bible actually describes us by nature as living in the dark. Living in the dark.

Let me quote to you from Ephesians on this. “I tell you this,” says Paul, writing to them, “and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are”—listen—“they are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.”[14] That’s not a very nice description of people, is it? But that’s what I must tell you the Bible says this morning: that unless the light of Jesus has shone into our darkness, we still live in the dark. We’re actually “separated from the life of God.” And Jesus takes it a step further when he says that not only do people live in the dark, but they like living in the dark. Remember, in John 3 he says men love darkness rather than light. Why? Because their deeds are evil.[15]

I daren’t mention this without it sounding like I’m spending my time in unprofitable ways. I can assure you I’m not, and you can check in every way you may like. But I know the difference between buildings that have windows in them and buildings that don’t have windows in them. I know when the lights shine bright on the outside of a building that has no windows in it, beckoning me in, that it’s beckoning me into the darkness. Why is it that it’s so dark in those places? Why are the dens of dirtiness dark? Well, people don’t want their faces to be seen. They’re moral beings. They know this is wrong. They know this is evil. Turn the lights down. Turn them up on the outside; turn them down on the inside.

Living in the dark. Liking it in the dark. Liberated from the dark. You see, that’s what Jesus came to do. On that great day when they were lighting all those candelabras in the temple, and it was ablaze with all the wonder of the lights, Jesus stands up in the middle of it all, and remember what he says in John chapter 8? It’s recorded for us, verse 12: he says, “Excuse me! I am the light of the world!”[16] What? “I am the light of the world.” Is he, or isn’t he?

I can tell you, if he’s a created being, he is not the light of the world. I can guarantee it. If he’s a created being, he cannot be a Savior, for only God can save, and only a man needs to die; therefore, it’s gonna have to be the God-man. And if this man is a created man, then he is not God; therefore, he’s a fraud; therefore, he should be rejected. Surely only the devil himself would invent such a corrupt story.

“He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life, and he who does not follow me will continue to walk in darkness and will not have the light of life.”[17] Have you ever come to this Counselor? This Wonderful Counselor? He knows you personally, he diagnoses you properly, and he will deliver you from your condition powerfully. He knows you personally, he’ll diagnose you properly, and he’s the only one who can deliver you powerfully.

I wonder if there aren’t some here this morning who, like these people in the eighth century BC, were looking up and finding nothing, looking down and finding nothing, looking around and finding only fearfulness. And the description of their condition is the same then and now. There is no dawn in their hearts. That’s how he puts it there in at the end of chapter 8; there’s no dawning in their hearts.[18]

Have you ever come to this Wonderful Counselor? He knows you personally, he diagnoses you properly, and he will deliver you from your condition powerfully.

You remember I said last Sunday that you should all go out and rent the movie Amazing Grace,[19] the story of William Wilberforce and the abolition of slavery. How many of you actually did that? Quite a few. That’s good! Very obedient group. Good class. Extra credit for all of you. Ice creams.

You may recall a number of wonderful scenes in there, but one of the scenes involves Wilberforce with William Pitt the Younger, who was the prime minister. William Pitt is on his deathbed, you recall. And Wilberforce goes to visit him, and Pitt is lying there, and Pitt says to his friend Wilberforce, “I am afraid. I am so afraid.” Should he be? Yes. Why? ’Cause he was living in the dark, and he was about to go out into utter darkness.

Why? Because no one had ever told him? No. Because in the course of the friendship between Wilberforce and Pitt the Younger, Wilberforce took his friend the prime minister to listen, at least on one occasion, to a well-known Anglican preacher by the name of Richard Cecil. And on the day they went together to the equivalent of the Christmas concert, the fellow inviting him, Wilberforce, and his friend the prime minister—I think you’d keep an extra seat for him if he came—but anyway, in they went together. And when they came out, Wilberforce said that in the preaching he felt as though his soul had been raised up to heaven. When he heard the preaching, his soul was raised up to heaven. And turning to his friend Pitt, he said, “And how about you?” Pitt said, “I haven’t the faintest idea what that man was talking about.”

“I felt my soul lifted up to heaven.” “I haven’t got the faintest idea what he’s on about.” What’s the difference? Light and darkness. Light shining into the soul of Wilberforce. Pitt remaining in the darkness of his unbelief.

I think we began the service this morning with a prayer. We all sang it together. Did you mean it? I was on the front row. I heard you behind me. You were all singing very, very well: “O come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for you.”[20]

You won’t misunderstand me when I say this to you, I hope. But I have more than a sneaking suspicion that this third service on a Sunday morning is significantly populated by unconverted believers—individuals who in their heads have given mental assent to orthodox truth concerning Jesus in the Bible, but that is all they have done. That intellectual assent has never been matched by their willingness to bow down before Jesus and cast themselves upon his mercy.

And that explains why you remain unchanged. Because all that you have done is reckon things in your head, but the Holy Spirit hasn’t come to live in your life. And if anyone is in Christ, they’re a new creation; the old is gone, and the new has come.[21] In other words, the light has dawned in their hearts.

My concern for you folks is not simply that you would understand orthodox Christianity but that you would come to bow your knee to the lordship and the saviorship of Jesus. And today would just be a terrific day to do that. In fact, today is always the day to do that.

Father, look upon us in your mercy. Shine the light of your truth into the darkness of our hearts where they are indifferent or rebellious. May your pursuing love break down our resistant wills. Some of us are going to all kinds of counselors for all kinds of things without ever having come to you, the Wonderful Counselor. Grant that the words of our mouths, the meditation of our hearts, may be found acceptable in your sight.[22]

And may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit rest upon and remain with all who believe, now and forevermore. Amen.


[1] Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass: And What Alice Found There, chap. 6.

[2] See Genesis 25:29–34.

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

[4] Betty Lou Mills, “Only Jesus.” Lyrics lightly altered.

[5] See Isaiah 7:14.

[6] Isaiah 28:29 (NIV 1984).

[7] Isaiah 11:1 (NIV 1984).

[8] “Miracle of Miracles,” in Fiddler on the Roof, directed by Norman Jewison (Beverly Hills, CA: United Artists, 1971).

[9] See Luke 1:3–4.

[10] Luke 2:19 (NIV 1984).

[11] See Luke 2:25–35.

[12] Luke 2:11 (KJV).

[13] Robert Cull, “Open Our Eyes, Lord” (1976). Lyrics lightly altered.

[14] Ephesians 4:17–18 (NIV 1984).

[15] See John 3:19.

[16] John 8:12 (paraphrased).

[17] John 8:12 (paraphrased).

[18] See Isaiah 8:20.

[19] Amazing Grace, directed by Michael Apted, written by Steven Knight (Momentum Pictures, 2006).

[20] Emily E. Elliott, “Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne” (1864). Language modernized.

[21] See 2 Corinthians 5:17.

[22] See Psalm 19:14.

Copyright © 2022, 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.