Due to a technical difficulty, there is no audio or video of this week’s message, but we have these sermon notes and Life Group questions.
Do Not Forget the Name of Christmas
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. [NASB]
- How are you like your mother or father? (a talent, ability, characteristic, habit, distinctive feature)
- What does (or did) your father do? Would you ever consider taking over the family business? Why or why not?
- What are some restaurants, vacation spots, books, movies, or other areas of interest that you consider the best of their kind? What made them so much greater than the rest?
Ken began mentioning the Christmas Countdown – 30 days until Christmas. Culture – half of Americans believe in the virgin birth. Most Americans believe the spiritual part of Christmas is fading away. Happy holidays vs. Merry Christmas. Those who believe the birth of Jesus is fact, down to 55%. The sacredness of Christmas is fading too. A dangerous shift from the sacred center of Christmas. So, here are facts that define the event…
- What is a good way for Christians to help keep Christ in Christmas, in our society’s ever-increasing elimination of Christianity from the public square?
- How has modern materialism become such a distraction during this holy remembrance of our Savior’s birth?
- The History: the story behind the story
Ceremonies of the OT compared to the new faith of Christianity. The fulfillment of every part of the OT story. God spoke clearly, in this history. Two ways to understand this history. 1) God has always spoken in history, 2) every word spoken pointed to Jesus. God spoke to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses… trekking all through the prophets, for 3000 years of God speaking, then 400 years of silence, then God spoke his final word, the Messiah is here, plainly and specifically telling us about Jesus’ coming.
- John 5:39 – you are studying the Scriptures for eternal life, but they testify of ME.
- Luke 24:27 – beginning with Moses and the prophets, taught the things about himself, in ALL the Scriptures.
- Galatians 4:4 – in the fullness of time God sent his Son.
Larry King, who is the one person and to ask one question. I would ask Jesus, “is the virgin birth real?” If so, it would change everything, it would define history for all of us.
- What are the key differences between God speaking through the prophets of old and God speaking through his Son?
- Ken mentioned that all things in the Hebrew Scriptures pointed to Jesus. What lesson might we apply to our lives today? (all that we are and stand for should also point to Christ).
- What is significant about having a personal relationship with the heir of all things? How many people can say they have a personal relationship with world leaders, presidents, or kings? So, where do believers stand with the fact of being children of the Creator and Sustainer of the universe?
- The Advent: the miracle of the birth
Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and nature. Jesus sustains it all by the power of his word. It is not that he has spoken through the prophets, and then now through the Son, but he summarizes all things through the son, It is not then versus now, he came to fulfill, the completer, the greater than, all who came before him. Not prophets first and Jesus second, but Jesus fulfills what the prophets said. The baby came as creator and sustainer. The baby is the complete and perfect representation of the Father.
- Past – Hebrews 1:2 – Jesus made all things, the universe.
- Present – Hebrews 1:3 – Jesus sustains all things by the power of his word, upholds it all. The perfectness of the universe, he is in charge of it all. He is the Presence, Power, Proprietorship of God.
- Future – Hebrews 1:2 – Jesus is the heir of all things. Philippians 2 – every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that he is Lord.
Jesus is the exact representation of God, not a model, all God’s glory and holiness is seen in the person of Jesus Christ. The terms expression or nature is more like character, (the essence of discipleship – the student becoming like the master) like a mold for coinage, so all would be identical. Not one detail is left out. This baby is God coming to us – Emmanuel, “God with us.” For millions, Christmas has become decentralized, it is only the “holiday season.” Why? They have lost the sense of marvel and astonishment of the event. They don’t remember the miracle.
- How is the birth of Jesus the greatest miracle ever?
- Since God’s Glory was stamped on Jesus, how does this parallel our experience in relation to our justification, life-long sanctification, and eventual glorification?
- The Life: the sacredness of His ministry
This sacredness is defined by Jesus’ life and ministry. Hebrews 1:3 – he made purification for sin, he sat down. Jesus has fulfilled all the ceremonies of the OT. All the requirements are fulfilled according to the Father’s will. Jesus did not come just to show us a better way to worship but came to be the sacrifice for sin.
- 1 Timothy 1:15 – Jesus came to save sinners.
- 1 Peter 2:9 – called out of darkness into his marvelous light.
- 1 Peter 3:18 – Jesus died, the just for the unjust.
Jesus sat down: how would God allow such humiliation of his Son? After, he took the most powerful seat in heaven. All this so we can have eternal life.
- We looked at the secularization of our culture against the sacredness of our incarnational celebration. How have Christians lost the sacredness of this moment that Jesus came to earth?
- Since Jesus is the Sustainer of all things, in relation to our salvation, what are some ways and reasons that Christians lose the sense of awesomeness of the Christmas season?
- The text tells us that Jesus made purification for sins. How is the New Testament sacrifice of Christ greater than the Old Testament sacrificial system? (OT blood of animals covered sin, NT blood of Jesus cleansed sin; OT sacrifices were annual and regular, NT sacrifice of Jesus was once for all time and unrepeatable).
- The Identity: the power of His name
Hebrews 1:4 – Jesus is a higher rank than angels, always so, but he is not in heaven. Heaven is not so we can be absent from earth but, so we can be present with Jesus. Angles are not to be worshipped.
- Past – Jesus’ parents gave him the name Matthew 1:21, Isaiah 9:6
- Present – call on his name to be saved, Romans 10:9-10, 13
- Future – One day we will see him face to face… Philippians 2, every knee will bow, and every tongue confess Jesus is Lord.
Wrap up Questions:
- Why do you think the author of Hebrews made such a point of Christ’s deity to these Hebrew Christians?
- What impact would you suspect these words had on Jewish Christians who were considering returning to Judaism?
- What difference does it make to you that Jesus sustains everything by His powerful word?
- Jesus can easily use his power to humble us into submission, but what does that do to our free will? (every knee bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord).
- What in your life tempts you to back away from your commitment to Christ? How can you be more committed to obedience?
- What steps can you take to remind yourself that Jesus is the Son of God and worth following?