All posts tagged birth
Why on earth did Jesus come? is the most important question you can answer this Christmas. To help you, John Blanchard has written a short book that answers it.
FIRST LOOK: It’s a short book (only 40 pages). It’s divided into lots of short sections 1-3 pages long with boxes that have summary sentences. It’s a quick read – under 2 hours.
CONTENT: This book is packed with an astonishing amount of information. Topics covered include the date and year of Jesus’ birth, the virgin birth (including the reliability of the gospel accounts and wrong teaching about Mary), Jesus’ existence, and His identity as God Himself.
The book finishes by answering the key question ‘Why on earth did Jesus come?’ which is to save people who are lost because of their sin and how to receive God’s gift of salvation.
MY TAKE: Each section is clear and to the point. I particularly appreciated the section called ‘If God became a man’ where he lists 9 things you’d expect a man who was God to be able to do, and shows how Jesus fits the bill. His explanation of sin and its seriousness is thoroughly biblical and shows why Jesus’ coming is such good news!
USE: This booklet is great to giveaway and ideal for this time of year. It has more content than a regular Christmas tract does but it is short enough to make it accessible to anyone interested in finding out what Christianity is about. It’s definitely worth churches having some copies available to hand out after their carol service.
BONUS: You can download a talk by John Blanchard which answers this question HERE.
Why on earth did Jesus come? is available to buy HERE with good discounts if you buy multiple copies.
Judges 13 (25th July 2010, Banstead Community Church)
‘A Saviour is Born’
- Download MP3
The nativity story that points us to a greater nativity story.
Two things we learn about God…
1. The God who saves people who don’t want to be saved (v1)
The pattern: Rebellion ? Retribution ? Request ? Rescue ? Rest
Judges 13: Rebellion ? Retribution ? … ? …
Into this situation God appears to a nameless, childless woman.
2. The God who saves with a baby (v2-25)
The right response to news from God about a Saviour is belief.
This baby is special.
The commands that God gives are to be obeyed.
Don’t waste your life (Ephesians 2:10, 5:15-16)
Further reading on the topic of the God who comes:
- Mark Driscoll, Vintage Jesus
- Jared Wilson, Your Jesus is too safe
- Mike Cain, Real Life Jesus
- John Blanchard, Why on earth did Jesus come?
- Joshua Harris, Dug Down Deep (chapter 5)
“Yes, Christ is altogether lovely.
He is altogether lovely in his person, in the glorious all-sufficiency of his deity and the gracious purity and holiness of his humanity, authority, majesty, love, and power.
He is altogether lovely in his birth and incarnation.
He is altogether lovely in the whole of his life, in his holiness and obedience, which in the depths of poverty and persecution he showed by doing good, receiving evil, blessing others and being cursed himself all his days.
He is altogether lovely in his death, especially to sinners. He was never more glorious and desirable than when he was taken down from the cross, broken and lifeless. He carried all our sins into a land of forgetfulness. He made peace and reconciliation for us. He procured life and immortality for us.
He is altogether lovely in his work, in his great undertaking to be the Mediator between God and man, to glorify God’s justice, to save our souls, to bring us to the enjoyment of God who were at such an infinite distance from him by reason of our sin.
He is altogether lovely in the glory and majesty with which he is crowned. Now he is seated at the right hand of the majesty on high. Though he is terrible to his enemies, yet he is full of mercy, love, and compassion to his loved ones.
He is altogether lovely in those graces and comforts that he pours on his people by the Holy Spirit.
He is altogether lovely in all the tender care, power, and wisdom by which he protects, safeguards, and delivers his church and people in the midst of all oppositions and persecutions to which they are exposed.
He is altogether lovely in all his ordinances and the whole of that glorious worship which he has appointed for his people, by which they draw near to him and have communion with him and his Father.
He is altogether lovely and gracious in the vengeance that he takes and will finally execute upon the stubborn enemies of himself and his people.
He is altogether lovely in the pardon he has purchased and which he gives to those who receive him.
He is altogether lovely in the reconciliation that he has wrought, in the grace that he communicates, in the comforts, the peace and the joy that he gives his saints, and in his assured preservation of them, losing none but raising all of them to eternal glory in the last day.
Yes, he is altogether lovely…This is my beloved and this is my friend.”
(John Owen, Communion with God)
And God held in his hand
A small globe. Look, he said.
The son looked. Far off,
As through water, he saw
A scorched land of fierce
Colour. The light burned
There; crusted buildings
Cast their shadows: a bright
Serpent, a river
Uncoiled itself, radiant
On a bare
Hill a bare tree saddened
The sky. Many people
Held out their thin arms
To it, as though waiting
For a vanished April
To return to its crossed
Boughs. The son watched
Them. Let me go there, he said.
(RS Thomas, The Coming)
Revelation 12:1-6 gives a different side to Christmas than we usually see. The happy manger scene may still be there, but in the background lurking is a dragon shaped shadow.
“And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.”
In these verses in Revelation we are introduced to three characters: the woman, the dragon, and the child.
The woman refers to the people of God (the sun, moon, and stars allude to Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37). The woman is pregnant, in the last stages of labour, and about to give birth. Out of the people of God is going to come a son, that God’s people have waited patiently for.
But then we have the dragon. It’s the colour of blood and fiery destruction (red). It has heads, horns, and crowns symbolising it’s power and authority, and refers to the enemies of God’s people (Pharaoh in Ezekiel 29:3 is called a dragon). And this dragon is the ultimate enemy of God’s people – devil (Revelation 12:9). The dragon is next to the woman in the labour ward. The dragon is saying “push” because it wants to destroy the child the moment it was born.
It’s a different view of Christmas to one we usually see. As Mary is giving birth, the devil was seeking to destroy her baby before He could do His saving work. The devil is missing from all the nativity scenes we see on the front of Christmas cards, but he was there doing his evil work. One of the clear ways was Herod failed attempt to kill Jesus in Matthew 2:1-12.
But a son comes forth from the people of God, Jesus Christ. The devil’s failure is highlighted in the fact that only one verse is given to describe Jesus’ whole life with two events mentioned. His birth and his ascension. His ascension being the victory parade to the throne in heaven after defeating sin, Satan, and death through His death and resurrection.
In this different view of Christmas we have a reminder of two important truths.
- The Devil is out to destroy – he tried to do it with Jesus, and now today he tries to do it with Jesus’ followers.
- The Devil is a loser – Jesus defeated Him, and will keep us safe when Satan attacks if we continue to trust in Him as we wait patiently for Him to return and destroy Satan once and for all.