Why God Became Man – 2017

Why God Became Man – 2017
Hebrews 2:5-18 • Dr. Andy Woods • December 24, 2017 • Christmas Sermons


Andy Woods

Why God Became Man

Christmas Message

12-24-17     Hebrews 2:5-18

Good Morning everybody.  Merry Christmas to everybody although it’s a little early for that.  Merry Christmas Eve, how’s that?  My daughter asked me last night, what date it is and I said    it’s Christmas Eve Eve and she thought that was pretty funny.

Let’s take our Bibles and open them to the Book of Hebrews, chapter 2.  You say Hebrews, I thought we were the Daniel church.  We’ll be finishing Daniel, don’t worry, but today is a special day as you know, and tomorrow, where we celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ. And as Ed Jones mentioned in the announcements I invite people to come back this evening at 6:00, actually let’s make it 5:45, shall we, (Christian Standard Time), and we’re going to be dong a short service of some traditional songs and a short devotion from myself.  You might wonder why we celebrate Christmas on December 25.  Have you ever wondered that?  There’s no evidence that Jesus was born December 25; what’s this December 25th thing about.  We’ll talk about that this evening.

But for this morning the title of our message is Why God Became Man.  This time of the year, Christmas, what we typically think of is the virgin birth of Jesus, the entrance of God into our world.  I’m not really crazy about the phrase virgin birth; I think the better terminology is the virgin conception.  At a particular point in time the Holy Spirit miraculously, as you know, touched the womb of Mary, the virgin, and she became pregnant with God incarnate.  And it  was at that point that Jesus Christ… at the point of the virgin conception Jesus Christ, the eternally existent Second Member of the Godhead, a being that’s fully God and a being that has always existed eternally, at that point of the virgin conception is the moment humanity was added to eternally existent deity.

And this is something that many people think was an exchange.  A lot of people have this idea  that well, Jesus took off one jacket, the deity jacket, and he put on the humanity jacket.  A lot of people look at it as a subtraction, Jesus stopped being God and He started being man.  And NEITHER of those ideas is what the Bible teachers.   The Bible teaches that the incarnation of Jesus Christ was not a subtraction, it was not a substitution, it was not an exchange, but it was an addition.  At the point that Mary, the virgin, became pregnant with the Lord Jesus Christ is the moment eternally existent deity had something added to it—humanity.  And this is what we  would call the incarnation; that’s the fancy word for this.   In fact, you might recognize in that word “incarnation” the word carne, or carnivorous which means what?  Meat; have you had any chili con carne lately?  Chili with meat.

The incarnation is the enfleshment of God and if you want the very fancy name for this we would call this the hypostatic union.  What does that mean?  It means Jesus Christ became, at that point of the virgin conception, the unique God-man, 100% God, 100% man in a single individual.  And of course something like this has never happened before in the history of the world, in the history of creation and something like this will never happen again.  And that’s what we are busy celebrating this time of the year, the enfleshment of God, the virgin conception.   So a lot of people will overstate this or they will understate this.  There’s a lot of confusion about this.

Let me give you this statement for Dr. John Walvoord, in his book; he’s a long time professor, President of Dallas Seminary, in his book, Jesus Christ our Lord.  He says this: “The act of kenosis,” now kenosis means emptying, and that is dealt with very aggressively in the Book of Philippians, chapter 2, that’s what he’s commenting on.  “The act of kenosis as stated in Philippians 2 may therefore be properly understood to mean that Christ surrendered no attribute  of deity, but that He did voluntarily restrict their independent use in keeping with His purpose of living among men and their limitations.”  [Jesus Christ Our Lord, 143-44]

At no point following the virgin conception of our Lord Jesus Christ did Jesus ever stop being God.  I could take you to passage after passage after passage in the New Testament where Jesus over and over claims to be God.  He claims to be the great I AM, a divine title, John 8:58.  [John 8:58, “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”’]  He says, “I and the Father are one,” John 10:30.  Jesus never stopped being God at any point following the incarnation, beginning with the virgin conception.  What He relinquished was not deity… watch this very carefully, but the privileges of deity.  He temporarily set those aside; He temporarily gave them up.  He never even gave up His independent use of His attributes, His attributes of  God.  Jesus, had He asserted Himself could have stopped the whole crucifixion dead in its tracks but He did not do that because he restricted the independent use of His attributes in submission    to the will of God the Father.

So this is what we would call a crash course, if you will, on the incarnation, the enfleshment of God, the hypostatic union, and it began with the virgin conception of our Lord Jesus Christ.  And that’s what we are celebrating today and Christmas morning, specifically tomorrow.

So what I would like to talk you through today is simply this: why was this necessary? Why was the incarnation of Jesus Christ, which began with the virgin conception, why did it have to work this way? Why was it necessary for God to work in human history in such a way that the incarnation of Jesus Christ would take place?  Why was it necessary for the enfleshment of God?   And so what I’d like to share with you are eight reasons for that.  All of these reasons are taken right out of your Bible and my Bible, right out of Hebrews 2 beginning at verse 5, traveling to the end of the chapter, verse 18.

And I think as we walk through this list we’re going to walk away from here this morning with great appreciation for the virgin conception, the beginning of the incarnation or the hypostatic union or the enfleshment of God.  Why did it have to work this way?  Reason number 1 is given  in verses 5-8, the incarnation was absolutely essential, number 1, to restore God’s original purpose for mankind.  Take a look, if you could, at Hebrews 2 and look at verses 5-8.

Hebrews 2:5, “For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking.  [6] But one has testified somewhere, saying, ‘WHAT IS MAN, THAT YOU REMEMBER HIM? OR THE SON OF MAN, THAT YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT HIM?  [7] YOU HAVE MADE HIM FOR A LITTLE WHILE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS; YOU HAVE CROWNED HIM WITH GLORY AND HONOR, AND HAVE APPOINTED HIM OVER THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS;  [8] YOU HAVE PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET.”’  For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.”

Now as we read those verses you’ll notice that they’re in quotations here.  Most of our Bible translations, the NASB anyway, through capitalization they make it very clear that the author      of Hebrews is quoting something else.  And what he is quoting from is the Old Testament.  He’s quoting Psalm 8:4-6 which is probably the greatest verses in the whole Bible, other than Genesis 1, which reveals God’s original purpose for man.

Why does man exist?  Why did God create this planet?  Why did God create human beings?  The answer is in Psalm 8:4-6, which is alluding back to Genesis 1.  Have you ever wondered that?  What are we doing here?  Why do we exist?  We don’t have to read far in God’s Word to discover this, you get the picture at the very first book, very first chapter, very first page.

Genesis 1:26-28 reveals God’s original purpose for man and woman.  Verse 26 of Genesis 1 says, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule” look at that, “over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’”  [27, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”]  Down in verse 28, “God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”

The fact of the matter is you, humanity, myself, when God brought us forth had in mind authority.  He had in mind dominion.  He had in mind ruling and reigning.  And here’s what the original equation was supposed to look like.  God the Father, God was to rule over man and woman, and by the way, it’s “man and woman” that are both co-rulers under God.  Certainly the place of headship within marriage belongs to the man and there are different roles for men and women within marriage but with both of them, if you look at this language very carefully, were given authority because it says, “let them” over and over again.  Who?  Adam and Eve, let them rule,   let them have authority.  So God was to rule over our forbearers, Adam and Eve, and they were to govern creation for God.  That’s why Adam and Eve were brought forth.  That’s why the human race exists.

And that takes you from Genesis 1 to Genesis 2 and then we have a problem in Genesis 3.  In Genesis 3 you discover where things got lost because what happened is our forbearers stopped governing creation for God but they started listening to creation.  I like to say they became at this point animal activists, not that I’m not in some sense an animal activist; I don’t promote cruelty   to animals at all.  But you see what’s happening in our society is animals and creation is being elevated to a place that God never originally gave to it.

And so that mistake is made in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve start listening to the voice of creation,  in particular they are listening to a talking snake and in the process they rebel against God.  Satan was so good at the beginning, how he inverted God’s original design.  And the moment that happened is the moment that our forbearers lost authority over the earth.  And who became the ruler of this world?  The devil.  The Bible is very clear about this; this is why he’s called “the prince of this world,” Satan is.  [John 12:31, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” John 14:30,  “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me..”  John 16:11, “Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.”]

The god of this world, the prince and power of the air. [Ephesians 2:2, “in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.”]

He is the one that the believer wrestles with, you can see all the verses there, you can look up those on your own, He is the one roaming about like a roaring lion seeking someone to have a glass of lemonade with… it doesn’t say that, “seeking someone to devour.”  1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour:” ]

1 John 5:19 says, “the whole world lies within his power.”  [I John 5:19, “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”]

And it’s at this point that the planet was put into change; it was put into bondage.  And this is exactly what Romans 8 tells us about the bondage that planet earth is now in.  Romans 8:19-22 says this: “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. [20] For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope [21] that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. [22] For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.”

We are living in a world that is not what God designed originally.   We are in a world where the authority that God had given to man has been usurped.  We are in a world that is controlled by the devil himself.

What, then, is the goal of history?  What is the whole Bible about?  It’s about how to restore what was lost in Eden. God’s design is to bring back what was lost in Genesis 3.  He’s trying to get the human race back to Genesis 1 where God the Father will rule over a man and that man will govern creation for God.  That’s why the doctrine of the millennial kingdom has to have a dominant place in how the Christian thinks.  The millennium, the one thousand year reign of Christ, what is that all about?  It is the restoration of what was lost in Genesis 3.

Charles Ryrie, a great theologian, says this: ““Why is an earthly kingdom necessary? Did He” that’s Jesus  “not receive His inheritance when He was raised and exalted in heaven? Is not His present rule His inheritance? Why does there need to be an earthly kingdom? Because He” that’s Jesus “must be triumphant in the same arena where He was seemingly defeated.  See that? “His rejection by the rulers of this world was on this earth. His exaltation must also be on this earth. And so it shall be when He comes again to rule this world in righteousness. He has waited long for His inheritance; soon He shall receive it.”  [Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology, Page 511]   How can you restore what was lost to the first man unless God Himself becomes a what?  A man; unless God becomes a man what was lost to the first man can’t be restored.  Adam’s disobedience affected all; Christ’s obedience blessed all.  That’s why Jesus is called the last Adam.                    [1 Corinthians 15:45, “…The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.]

Let me introduce  you, if I could, to the two most influential people in world history.  Do you want to meet them?  Who are the people in world history that have exercised the most influence ever?  The first man is named Adam, his single action of disobedience involving a tree (the tree of knowledge) brought in a universal curse.  The whole world has been cursed because of what the first Adam did.  And we are born into that physical curse through physical birth.  At the point of our physical conception we are in the cursed lineage of Adam, whether we like it or not.  And so Adam in the Scripture is referred to as the first Adam.

But then the second most influential man in the history of the world, I’ll introduce to is Jesus Christ, because of His single action of obedience (death on the cross)… by the way, also involving a tree… the cross is call a “tree,” Galatians 2, had a universal impact, a universal blessing and yet people are not encapsulated into that spiritual blessing until they’re born not physically but what? spiritually.  [Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us– for it is written, ‘CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE.”]

And that happens at the point of personal faith in Christ alone for salvation.  The moment that happens  you are ushered out of the curses of the first Adam that universally affected everything into the spiritual blessings of the last Adam, Jesus Christ.  That’s why Jesus Christ is called the last Adam.  [1Corinthians 15:45, “So also it is written, ‘The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”]

For  years and years  I called Jesus the second Adam; the Bible, to my knowledge, never uses that expression relative to Jesus Christ.  Jesus is not the second Adam because if  He’s a second Adam there could be a third one, and a fourth one, and a fifth one.  What Jesus did is so universal that He is not referred to as the second Adam, He is simply called “the last Adam.”  And yet if the Second Member of the Trinity, God the Son, did not become a man He could not have qualified to reverse the curses introduced by the first man.  The reason Jesus came into this world is: number 1, to restore God’s original purpose for mankind.

But there’s a second reason why Jesus Christ came into our world.  There’s a second reason for the incarnation and that is number 2, “to taste death for every man.”  Notice, if you will, Hebrews 2:9, “But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death” notice, “for everyone.”   Notice how this verse here mentions “death” twice; in reference to Jesus Christ’s suffering and death, in reference to Jesus Christ that he might “taste death.”  Now “taste” does not mean licking a lollipop; it means the full experience in death.

And why was this necessary?  The simple answer to that is sin has a price tag.  Somebody’s got to pay; sin is expensive.   Paul, in Romans 6:23 tells us, “The wages” a wage is a cost, isn’t it, “The wages of sin is death.”  And Adam and Eve, prior to the original sin, were warned very clearly about this.  Genesis 2:17, before sin entered the picture, before you eat from this tree is the day
you shall will” what? “die.”  [Genesis 2:17, “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”]

Well, they ate, and they began to die; they died at that moment spiritually and the process of physical death began.  And so what we learn in Genesis 3:21 is someone’s got to pay the price for this.  [Genesis 3:3, “but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”  Genesis 3:21, “therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.”]  And that’s why Genesis 3 closes with God taking animal skins and using those animal skins to clothe Adam and Even.  And you say well, where did those animal skins come from?  Obviously right there on the spot an animal was killed.  You say well, what did the animal do wrong?  Nothing, the animal is a sinless, innocent sacrifice.  God killed that animal because sin has a price, and He used those animal skins to clothe Adam and Eve.

And what we learn from Hebrews 2:9 is the price of sin is so high and it is such an affront to God, it is such an eternal insult to God that God Himself has to die to rectify this problem.  [Hebrews 2:9, “But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.”]  That’s why “death” is used twice there in Hebrews 2:9 in reference to Jesus Christ.  Can I ask you a simple question?  How does God die?  I mean, how do you kill God exactly?  There’s only one answer to that; God has to become a man.  And so Jesus Christ was born into this world with a death sentence hanging over His head to die and to reverse what the first Adam had done.

And you’ll notice the end there of Hebrews 2:9, I’ve made reference to this earlier; it says, “, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for” who? “everyone.”  What is the Christmas message exactly?  Here’s what’s the Christian message: that the world today, as I speak, is savable because of what Jesus did.  Every single human being on planet earth today is savable.  Now they’re not saved until they trust in what Jesus has done but they are savable.  You say well, isn’t that obvious to everybody?  It is not obvious; there are people today, because of an aggressive Calvinistic Reformed Theology have removed from evangelism this line, Jesus died for you.  Why would they do that?  Because they’re not sure if the person they’re talking to is one of the elect.

Jay Adams, I have a lot of respect for Jay Adams as counselor.  He brought in Bible based counselling.  But on page 70 of his book he lets his Calvinistic theology start to control his reading of the Bible.  He says, “But counselors, as Christians, are obligated to present the claims of Christ. They must present the good news that Christ Jesus died on the cross in the place of His own, that He bore the guilt and suffered the penalty for their sins. He died that all whom the Father had given to Him might come unto Him and have life everlasting.  As a reformed Christian, the writer believes that counselors must not…” counselors must NOT “…tell any unsaved counselee that Christ died for him, FOR THEY CANNOT SAY THAT. No man knows except Christ Himself who are His elect for whom He died.” [Competent to Counsel,  70.]

Now, what do you want to believe here?  Do you want to believe Jay Adams or do you want to believe what the author of Hebrews says, that Jesus died for every man.  [Hebrews 2:9]  This is why this whole issue of Reformed theology, and Reformed theology is just growing by leaps and bounds.  People think oh, it’s just a pie I the sky debate.  NO it’s not!  It relates even to how you share the gospel with people.  I hope you leave here with complete and total confidence that people that you evangelize this week, and I hope you do because that’s God’s will for your life, that you will tell those people that Jesus died for them, without apology!  Without reservation!  I hope you tell them that when Jesus was dying on that cross He was thinking about them individually.  He wasn’t just thinking about humanity generically, He was thinking about them personally because that’s what the whole incarnation is about.  That’s why the virgin conception, which started the enfleshment of God, that’s what it’s all about.  That’s what we are celebrating.

But there’s a third reason why God became man and that is, number 3, to bring many to glory.  Notice, if you will, Hebrews 2:10-13.  “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons” you should underline that word “sons” “in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. [11 ]For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,  [12] saying, “I WILL PROCLAIM YOUR NAME TO MY BRETHREN, IN THE MIDST OF THE CONGREGATION I WILL SING YOUR PRAISE.”  Verse 13, “And again, “I WILL PUT MY TRUST IN HIM.”  And again, “BEHOLD, I AND THE CHILDREN WHOM GOD HAS GIVEN ME.”

If you look at verse 10 the child of God are called “sons” of God.  What is a son?  Remember what the Apostle Paul said, Galatians 4:7, “If a son, then an” what? “an heir.”   As a child of God you are legally entitled, in fact, they’re legally yours, certain rights or benefits, that you have not necessarily entered into yet to enjoy but they’re still  yours nonetheless.

And one of the rights of the  child of God is divine glory.  In fact, this is why Jesus Christ came into the world, verses 10-13, to bring many sons or inheritors to glory.  Your glorification in Jesus Christ, my glorification in Jesus Christ is not a matter of debate; it’s a closed deal.  In fact, the issue is so closed that Paul, in Romans  refers to our glorification in the past tense, as if it’s already happened.  You remember Romans 8:29-30, Paul says, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also” what? “glorified.”

Paul here is talking to people that are believers in Rome and he’s talking about the things that God has already done for them.  He foreknew them, past tense.  He predestined them, past tense.  He called them, past tense.  He justified them, past tense.  And although they had not yet entered glory he says by the way, your glorification is past tense as well, it’s already happened.  It’s a legal fact although you have not entered into that blessing to enjoy it yet.

There’s a big difference between enjoyment and ownership.  And people today are trying to tell me that the Christian can lose his salvation.  What a ridiculous thought that is considering the fact that our glorification in the mind of God is already an accomplished reality.  Now why is it an accomplished reality?  Going back to point 2, because Jesus tasted death for every man.  The sting or the debt has been paid for and therefore when you place your personal faith in Christ God looks at you as if you’re already glorified and you may not feel glorified.  You may not look glorified.  I don’t know how glorified you all look out there today; I don’t know how glorified I look, but the reality of the situation is it’s a done deal legally.  We just haven’t entered into the enjoyment of it yet.  You see all of these things, these blessings that have been triggered through the virgin conception?  None of these things could happen without the process beginning with the virgin conception of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But there is a fourth reason why God became man.  Number four, to break Satan’s rule over humanity.  Notice if you will chapter 2 and verse 14.  “Therefore, since the children share in the flesh and blood, He Himself also likewise partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless” let me say that again, “through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death,” well who would that be?  The author of Hebrews says well I’m glad you asked, “that is, the” who? “the devil.”  The devil has been rendered powerless because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross 2,000 years ago and His resurrection from the dead, something that could not have happened without the incarnation of Christ beginning with the virgin conception of our Lord Jesus Christ.

You recall point 1, He came to restore God’s original purpose for man.  Why did He have to do that?  Because the world, ever since the fall of man, is in a state of bondage.  Satan, as we mentioned before, is ruling this world and the world system by and large loves it that way.  Everybody loves it that way other than God Himself.  Everybody loves it that way other than God’s people.  The world, and I like this picture here with the globe with chains on it, that’s how you have to picture our current condition, the world in a state of bondage as we saw earlier, Romans chapter 8.

But Jesus Christ, through His enfleshment, through His incarnation, which set into motion His ultimate death and resurrection from the dead laid the foundation for not just the present defeat of Satan but his future defeat.  Because of what Jesus Christ did we have complete and total optimism that one of these days in God’s providence these chains are going to come off this planet and the bondage will stop.

And that, beloved, is the significance of Revelation 5, which begins with the seven sealed scroll.  You say well, what is that?  The seven sealed scroll is the most important legal document in the history of mankind.  There is no more important legal document than the seven sealed scroll because the seven sealed scroll is the title deed to the earth which was handed over to Satan himself in Genesis 3.  And what happens is we have a revelation of that seven sealed scroll, and  yet nobody can open it.  Nobody is qualified to open it.  So John the Apostle, when he sees this (Revelation 5:2-4) starts to sob uncontrollably.  He starts to cry and cry and cry.  You can read all about it in those verses.

Now why is he crying?  Because what John sees is as long as that seven sealed scroll remains rolled up and unclaimed the title deed to the earth remains in the devil’s hands and John, in just a moment, visualizes what that would be like if that scroll is never opened.  He sees the world going on and on and on and on and on in that state, that state of bondage.  So he begins to sob, he begins to cry.  But then his composure, his countenance dramatically changes in Revelation 5:5-6 because he discovers that there is someone who is qualified to open the scroll and therefore liberate planet earth.

Revelation 5:5-6 says this, “and one of the elders said to me, ‘Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.’  [6] And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if” what? “slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.”   There is someone qualified to open it—Jesus Christ.  Why?  Because of His sacrificial death and His resurrection from the dead, something that would be an impossibility without the incarnation because how do you kill God?

And so Christ takes the scroll, verse 7.  He starts to open it.  Now as you go through the Book of Revelation, you say well how come so many of these judgments sound like the Book of Exodus? Have you noticed that?  It mentions frogs, it mentions the sea turning to blood and locusts and all of these things.  And you say well, why the similarity?  It’s deliberate similarity. God took His people out of Egyptian bondage in the Exodus through ten plagues.  Every plague that hit the grip of Pharaoh over God’s people was weakened; that is a type, that is a prefigurement of the ultimate exodus that’s about to happen in the book of Revelation, where God is not going to just take His people out of Egyptian bondage for 400 years.

He’s going to take this whole planet out of the bondage that it’s been in ever since Genesis 3.  And every time a judgment hits the earth with an opening of a new seal the grip of Satan on the world gets a little weaker and a little weaker and a little weaker and so by the time the whole thing is opened the seals are going to trigger the trumpets, the trumpets are going to trigger the bowls and what can heaven do?  Chapter 5, verses 8-14, the only thing they can do is just start praising the Lamb, praising Jesus Christ.  Isn’t that something to praise the Lord for?  The fact that He is qualified to take this whole world out of the bondage that it’s been in ever since the fall in Eden.

That is true worship.  I don’t even think we know what worship is today folks; we think worship is the liver-quiver; worship is my esthetic needs getting met, worship to us is an emotion, it’s a feeling.  That is NOT the biblical definition of worship.  Worship is a response to truth.   And what heaven just got hit with here is truth.  And this scroll is going to be opened and the planet is going to be liberated from bondage.  And what can people do other than just praise the Lord and glorify His name.

There is a sevenfold defeat of Satan; I wish I had time to go into all these.  The first three have already happened; the last three are yet to come.  And right in the middle of the first three defeats of Satan and the final three defeats of Satan is the cross of Jesus Christ because the cross of Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the dead laid the foundation for not just the past defeats of Satan but the future defeats of Satan as well, something that would be an impossibility without the virgin conception and the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And I want you to put yourself, if you could for just a moment, in the mind of the devil.  Where are you living in all of this?  In the legal system today there’s a big difference between conviction and sentencing.  When someone is accused of a crime they are tried by a jury of their peers and if they’re proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt the jury makes that person a convict at that point.  And typically that person will come before the same judge at a later point in time for sentencing.  That’s where Satan is; he’s living in between conviction and sentencing.  That’s why the Bible over and over again portrays him as a defeated foe.  This is why the Book of Revelation, chapter 12 and verse 12 says the devil has gone to the earth knowing he has but what? “a short time.”  [Revelation 12:12, “For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”]

I want you to understand something about Satan.  Satan’s goal is to take as many people to hell as he possibly can.  He’s going down, why not take everybody else down?  And the reality of the situation is Satan will do whatever he has to do to keep people away from Jesus Christ.  And if he fails in that assignment and that goal then he does whatever he has to do to neutralize the effective­ness of the Christian.  We talk over and over again about how God loves  you and has a wonderful plan for your life.  I agree with all of that.  But let me tell you something else.  Satan hates you and has a terrible plan for your life.

John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and” what? “destroy;” and it’s related to where he’s living, in between conviction and sentencing.  And yet the good news, the Christmas message is this is just a temporary arrangement.  The foundation has already been laid for the ultimate defeat of Satan, thank you the incarnation of Jesus Christ which began with the virgin conception.

This takes us to a fifth reason why God became man.  Notice, if you will, Hebrews 2:15, to remove the fear of death.  Hebrews 2:15 says “and to release those who through the fear of death were all their lifetime subject to its bondage.” [Hebrews 2:15, “and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”  NASB]  Notice what has plagued and notice what has haunted the human race from the beginning.  What happens after the grave?  Death obvious is a reality.  What happens when I leave this realm and enter the next realm, that without the Word of God I have no knowledge of.  And so consequently the human race, for all of these millennia has lived in a state of bondage to the fear of death.

And yet what does Hebrews 2:15 say?  Jesus came into the world to take those chains off of us.  Why did He do that?  Go back to point 2, “He tasted death.”  Go back to point 3, your glorification is a done deal.  If He already tasted death for me and I’m already on a fast track to glorification what in the world am I wasting my time there for, being afraid to die?  People today are just afraid to die.  We’re gripped by this.

During the brief time I’ve been the pastor here there have been multiple people that are no longer with us; they have died, for various reasons and causes.  Death is something that has affected this congregation.  Many of you are looking at doctor’s reports, you’re looking at health reports and you’re having to eyeball, perhaps for the first time in your life the actual fear of death.  And so it’s time we started talking about what the Bible says about death.

Listen to me very carefully.  If you are afraid of death as a Christian then you are living way beneath your privileges.  You can go on and be in bondage to this if you want to but Jesus came into the world to take that fear away.  Why is that?  Because I’m on a fast track to glory.  That’s what I love about Paul.  Paul had his life threatened so many times and what did he say?  “…to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”  And he prefaces that by saying, “We are of good courage.”  [2 Corinthians 5:8, “we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” NASB]  The person without Christ, the person without a knowledge of the Bible has no courage in the face of death.

And in fact, historians have documented the differences between an unsaved person dying and a saved person dying, it’s documented.  When I was with Dr. Randall Price around 2014 in the land of Israel and we actually entered into coliseums where the Christians were thrown to their deaths amongst these ravenous lions.   And the difference of a Christian dying versus an unsaved person dying, a marked difference.  The unsaved person, the pagan, would go to their grave pleading for mercy until their last possible breath.  The Christian goes to their grave praising the Lord Jesus Christ because of Hebrews 2:14.  [Hebrews 2:14, “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.”]  Paul, the apostle has zero fear of death.  In fact, when you read Paul carefully Paul is basically let’s get this show on the road here; something he was looking forward to.  Death is not the end for the Christian, it’s the beginning.  Death is not the end, it’s a transfer.  It’s a promotion.

What does Paul say there in Philippians 1:21-24?  Philippians 1:21-24, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is” what?  gain. [22] But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. [23] But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; [24] yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.”  If I had my way, Paul says, I would just check out of here and go into the presence of the Lord, but you people keep me here (you see a little resentment there) because God is using me to build you up in the faith.  But if it wasn’t for you I could be with Him.  That’s a different way of looking at your pastor, isn’t it.

And what are people talking about today?  I’ve looked at the news, looked at social media, what’s everybody talking about today?  Are we going to have another shooting.  I mean, after all, I heard a rumor of a rumor of a rumor of some group, ISIS, whoever, planning some kind of terrorist attack somewhere and everybody is on their guard.  Everybody is living on the edge, nerves are high.  Maybe they should be to some extent but I think we get out of focus really fast.  You know, we prayed for these folks, didn’t we, earlier, that were killed in Texas and we weep for their families but you know the fact of the matter is that assassin that went into that church, he might have done those people more favors than he ever thought possible, because of Hebrews 2:15.  [Hebrews 2:15, “and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”]

This takes us to number 6, there’s a sixth reason why God became man.  Number 6, to become our merciful high priest.  Look, if you will, at Hebrews 2:16-17, it says, “For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham.  [17]  Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, [to make propitiation for the sins of the people].”

Have you ever asked yourself this question: what is the job description of a priest?   What do priests do exactly?  The simplest definition I know of is they represent man before God and God before man.  Job’s cry… what’s the oldest book of the Bible?  Job.  Job’s cry, which begins divine revelation, is I don’t have a priest; I don’t have an umpire.  He says in Job 9:32-33, “For He” that’s God, “is not a man as I am that I may answer Him, that we may go to court together.  [33] There is no umpire between us, who may lay his hand upon us both.”  If I, Job says, you remember all the afflictions of Job, if I could just get into heaven and present my case before God maybe God would listen but I can’t do that because I’m just a man, and He is an omniscient, omnipotent all powerful holy God. I’m finite and He is infinite.  And the rest of the Bible is answering Job’s plea.  Just stick around Job, wait for subsequent revelation to come because you’re going to start to learn about somebody who’s going to answer that prayer for a priest or a redeemer; the answer is the God-man, Jesus Christ.

How do you represent man before God and God before man unless you’re what?  Both God and man.  The fact that Jesus is 100% deity, 100% humanity, watch this very carefully, uniquely qualifies Him to be humanity’s priest.  1 Timothy 2:5 says, “There is one mediator between us, both God and men,” and who would that be? “the man Christ Jesus.”  Can we please stop with the total foolishness that there are many ways to God… utter foolishness!  There are many paths… you can’t have an intermediary or channel between God and man unless  you go through the God-man.  The last time I checked there’s only one of those.

And so people that say well, Jesus is your way but I’m getting to God my way, they don’t have the foggiest idea what they’re talking about.  They don’t understand that only the virgin conception and the enfleshment of God accomplished that channel and those two attributes have never existed in any single person… ever!.  That’s why your Bible says over and over again, Jesus is the only way.  John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”  Acts 4:12 says there is no other name under heaven “by which we must be saved.”

[Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”]

Let me tell you something; this is what brings the wrath of the world on us, this very doctrine that I’m giving here, the exclusivity of Christ!  And listen to me very carefully; as God is my witness, Christians in America, at some  point, are going to start having to pay a price (if they’re not already) for believing this doctrine.  And as we are paying the price we need to understand what the doctrine is rooted in.  It is rooted in the hypostatic union, the enfleshment of God, something that only Christ’s incarnation could accomplish.

This takes us to a seventh reason why God became a man.  Number 7, to make a complete purification for sin.  Notice, if you will, Hebrews 2:17, we’ve already read most of it, “to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”  Notice this word “propitiation.”  The Greek for propitiation is the noun, hilasmos, it’s used here as a verb, the verb is hilaskomai.  What does that word even mean?  Propitiation means the satisfaction of divine wrath.  Divine wrath has been satiated; it has been appeased, it has been placated for our sin and Adam’s sin, going back to Genesis 3, because of what Jesus has done.  Propitiation is a doctrine that starts to be developed very early on.  I already showed you the animal sacrifice, Genesis 3:21.  That’s what the whole tabernacle is about, how the high priest one day a year, on the Day of Atonement, called Yom Kippur, read about it in Leviticus 16, would go into that inner sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, and he would sprinkle on the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant the blood of the sacrificed animal… propitiation!

But what could that do?  It kicked the can down the road for one year.  That’s why they had to do it the next  year, and the next year, and the next  year.  And this goes on for one thousand five hundred years; that’s a long time, isn’t it?  America has only been in existence for a little over two hundred years.  Think about one thousand five hundred years where God is kicking the can down the road year after year in Yom Kippur, the day of covering. Why is it called “the day of covering?”  That’s what You Kippur means: You—day, Kippur—covering, because what was happening here was prefiguring something but it never solved the issue.

This is why the author of the Book of Hebrews, chapter 10, same book, quotes Psalm 40, written by David 1000 B.C., which says, “IN WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE TAKEN NO PLEASURE.” This system was the best they had but it never pleased God, as David, through the Psalms God says I’m not pleased with this.  Why was God not pleased with it,  God gave it?   Because it never solved the problem.  It postponed the day of reckoning for a year but it never solved the problem until what?  The virgin conception leading to the virgin birth, thanks to the incarnation of Jesus Christ, who grew up, became a man, died on the cross and you recall Christ’s final words on the cross?

John 19:30, “Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and” as the King James say, “gave up the ghost.”  Death!  The material and the immaterial separated at that point, which is death.  And just before He died He said “It is finished!”  Which is actually a translation from one Greek word, tetelestai.  What does tetelestai mean?  It means paid in full; tetelestai has been found in Greco-Roman documents all over the Mediterranean world as an accounting term, when someone paid their bill, tetelestai was written on it.  Everybody knew in the Greco-Roman world exactly what tetelestai meant.

By the way, tetelestai is in the perfect tense.  You say what difference does it make?  Plenty, the perfect tense is a one-time action in the past, a singular action with ongoing benefits.  That’s what’s coming out of Christ’s mouth just before His death.  And this is why God was never pleased with the ark of the covenant and the tabernacle and even the temple system, and the whole Levitical system because it never fixed the problem.  Jesus did permanently fix the problem.  The tabernacle, the temple, the Levites are just shadows, prefigurements of what Christ will do.

This is why He came into the world; it’s done!  Religion is at the top of the screen, it says Christ did 90%.  You kick in 10%; I bought lunch, you leave the tip.  We laugh at that but people today are in total bondage to religion because they really don’t think Christ did enough.  He did a lot, He didn’t really do enough.  And so if that’s the way you think how do you  know whether you’re doing enough?  And you live your whole life without the assurance of what?  Salvation.  People get to the very end of their life… you ask people, if you died right now would you go to heaven?  Well, I’m about 95% sure.  Kind of like the weather report, which is never right by the way.  What God wants for you on Christmas is total assurance because of the bottom of the screen.  [God says:  Christ did 100%.  This is salvation by God’s grace]

There is nothing you can do.  But pastor, you don’t understand, I made a commitment to God.  Let me let you in on a little secret, folks; you’re not even going to be able to keep your New Year’s resolutions let alone a commitment to God.  Salvation is not like some business deal where God sits on one side of the desk and I sit on the other and we start to barter and God says well, if you do this I’ll do that, and I agree, and God sticks out His hand and says “we got a deal” and shakes my hand.  Is that salvation?  That’s not salvation.  If that’s what you think salvation is you don’t understand the rudimentarys of the grace of God.  Salvation is He did it all, tetelestai,  “It is finished!”

You say well what do I do?   You receive what He did as a gift.  Well how do you do that?   You do it by faith alone; that’s it.  No strings attached, no fear that oh boy, maybe the carpet is going to get ripped out from under me.  May God rescue us from religion.  May God rescue the human mind from a religious mindset, and help us  understand the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.  By the way, some think that would be an impossibility absent the what? Virgin conception.

And this finally takes us to our last point, the eighth and final reason why God came into the world as a man is to sympathize with those being tested.  Anybody here being tested this week, this month, this year?  You might be emerging from 2017 and saying that was the worst year of my life, everything that I thought would go right has gone south.

Well, I have good news for you; the good news is Hebrews 2:18, which says, “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”  What does a priest do?  We already gave the definition in point 6.  Here’s another definition—a priest can sympathize with our struggles.  You know, when I played basketball I had two kinds of coaches; I had coaches that had never played the game, hardly dribbled the ball.  I had other coaches that had played and so when a coach is screaming and yelling at you to endure, to work harder, to lift weights, to run the laps, what coach has your respect?  What would the guy that’s never played before know anything, know ANYTHING about the pain I was in?  but the coach that had played had gone through the rigors, he could sympathize with my weaknesses having experienced them himself.

That’s who Jesus is; He’s the coach that’s played the game.  Why is that?  Because of the incarnation and the enfleshment of God because humanity was added to deity, Jesus entered our world and He knew suffering and heartbreak the same way you experience it.  He knew… and I wish I had time to look at all these verses.  He knew what labor was. He was a carpenter.  Mark 6:3  He knew what it was like to come home at the end of the day fatigued.  He knew what distress was like.  Luke 22:44.  He knew what being troubled was like, John 12:27.  He knew what it was like to thirsty, John 19:28.  He knew what it was like to be hungry, Matthew 4:2.  He knew all about fatigue, John 4:5.  He knew what it was like to have His heart broken, John 11:35.  He knew what it was like when you look up at God and you say what in the world are You doing in my life, I mean, the things that are happening in my life are so perplexing I just don’t understand.  Jesus experienced that same thing in His humanity.  Jesus, Matthew 24:36, didn’t even know when He was coming back.  He knew what it was like to experience temptation, Hebrews 4:15, Luke 4:1-13.

The author of Hebrews wants us to understand this because the author says in Hebrews 4:15-16, “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.  [16] Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  When you go to Jesus with your problems.  You’re not praying to some disinterested deity that doesn’t know what it’s like to suffer.  You’re praying to someone that knows exactly what it’s like to suffer, having endured circumstances far worse than most of us will ever endure.  To my knowledge this is something that is totally unique to Christianity.  You do not find this in the doctrines of Islam.  You do  not find this in the doctrines of Buddhism or any other world religion.  All of those deities are just removed from the people having never entered human history the way Christ did and suffered and yet how different Jesus is.  He is unique as our priest because He suffered as we do.

You know, you go to someone with your problem; who are the best counselors in the midst of a problem?  People that have had that same problem in the past and have moved out of it victoriously.  Who better to counsel someone in the midst of a divorce than someone who’s gone through it?  Who better to counsel someone in the midst of a bankruptcy than someone that’s gone through it?

Who better to counsel someone in the midst of a health scare than someone that’s gone through it?

They always know the right thing to say, how to say it, when to say it, what to say, what not to say.

What would the person that’s never gone through that circumstance, what would they know about it?

And yet that’s who Christ is, that’s what it means when it says He is our sympathetic and merciful high priest.  And let me just reiterate without the incarnation you couldn’t have that, could you?  Why did Jesus come into the world, as we reflect upon this at Christmas time?  To restore God’s original purpose for man.  To taste death for every man.  To bring many to glory.  To break Satan’s rule over humanity.  To remove the fear of death.  To become our merciful high priest.  To make a complete purification for sin.  And to sympathize with those being tested.

Isn’t that something to celebrate at Christmas time?  And the virgin conception is the ball that got everything moving.  What a tragedy it would be to hear something like this on a special holiday like this and just sort of let it go in one ear and out the other without ever experiencing personal salvation.  But at the same time what a phenomenal thing it would be to hear something like this, this time of the year, to be born again, to move from Adam’s lineage to the spiritual lineage of the last Adam, and that happens (as we’ve tried to articulate today) through a simple condition that God has given to the human race which is to believe.  Believe is a synonym for receive, receive is just like Christmas where you receive something as a gift.  It’s an open heart, you reach out for it, you take it, you acknowledge the giver.  And that’s the only step the Bible has ever erected to come into a right relationship with God; it’s to receive, to believe.

John 1 says “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, not born of human will but born of the Spirit of God.”  The Spirit of God has come into the world to convict us of our need to do this; our exhortation to you at Sugar Land Bible Church is to do it right now, where you’re seated or if people happen to be listening, on the computer or whatever, to receive what Jesus has done.  Receive it as a free gift.  It’s really a matter of privacy; it’s a matter of quietness between you and the Lord where the Spirit convicts you and at that point you place your faith, not in yourself, not in  your works, not in your church, not in your New Year’s resolution but in the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s something you can do right now in the privacy of your own mind and the quietness of your own heart as I’m talking.  I can’t think of a better Christmas gift to receive than this.  If it’s something you need more help or explanation on I’m available after the service to talk.  Shall we pray.

Father, we’re grateful for this very special time of the  year. We’re grateful for what it means, we lose sight of it very fast, help us to keep these realities in our hearts and in our minds as we celebrate Your birth this week.  We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…. Amen.