[“Christmas is about hope. “Long lay the world in sin and error pining. Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” Jesus’ first coming gives us perfect hope only when we grasp what it points to: His second coming – “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13); our hope is the second coming of Christ and being with our Triune God and all our saved loved ones in a perfect new heaven and new earth with perfect new bodies in sinless perfection forever and ever and ever. At His first coming our Lord Jesus set us free from the penalty of sin (hell) and the power of sin (Rom. 6-8) but when He returns He will set us (and all of nature) free from the penalty of sin and all the effects of sin.” http://www.lensykes.com/archives/482]
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” (A. W. Tozer) Since Jesus Christ is the full revelation of God to mankind, knowing Him in all His fullness is the most important thing about us.
“For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6) Jesus is God with a Face!
“No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].” (John 1:18)
“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.” (Hebrews 1:1-3)
Who do you say that Jesus Christ is? The following seven revelations of the Lord Jesus Christ can help us know Him as He truly is and thus respond to Him as He calls us to do. ”One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; 30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ 31 The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)
1. “In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. He was present originally with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being. In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men. And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it].” (John 1:1-5) God has existed forever in eternity past as One God in Three Persons, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Only Christianity shows us the Triune nature of God and only Christianity reveals God as love; because by definition love requires a Lover and a Beloved One. [“A monotheistic God is by definition narcissistic. Love involves an “I/Thou relationship.” If there is only one being and he loves, he is by definition loving himself. Since the Fall, man is born into that kind of narcissistic self-love. I think it was John Milton who used the metaphor of Eve seeing herself in the reflection of the pond and then began to love her beauty, love herself. One of the main weapons of spiritual warfare is the belt of truth and part of that truth is seeing and thus knowing and experiencing the other-centered love of the Father toward the Son (me/us in the Son – Eph. 1:6) and the Son’s (and my/our) response of love back to the Father so that we are delivered from self-centeredness. For example, the best way to love our children is to demonstrate love by loving our spouse so they can see other-centered love rather than only receiving love from us as parents which could spoil them. Likewise as we see the other-centered love of the Father for the Son and His love back to the Father in and through the Spirit we can learn and share other-centered love with God and mankind which is the Great Commandment. (Matt. 22:37-39) So as this relates to the theme of spiritual warfare; we must come to see the fountainhead of sin as the opposite of other-centered love that is always flowing from the Father and the Son and see that self-centeredness is the very opposite of the Trinity. So to break the power of self-centeredness we need to more clearly see the outgoing love among the Trinity. Or we must see more clearly the Father loving the Son and the Son responding to the Father in love by loving Him and loving us out of His love for the Father.” http://www.lensykes.com/archives/1348] So God is relational and other-centered as seen only in the Triune God of Christianity and we are created in His image: to be relational, God-centered and other-centered versus self-centered; pride is the root of the Fall of mankind.
2. The supernatural birth of Jesus – the eternal Son of God became a Human Being. [“THE SUPERNATURAL CONCEPTION, BIRTH AND PROTECTION OF JESUS – PREANNOUNCED, LONG- AWAITED AND EXPECTED ARRIVAL OF GOD’S MESSIAH – Our faith is embedded in space, time and history and the Scriptures speak of Jesus’ humanity and Divinity: Matthew 1:1: “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Mark 1:1 “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Luke 2:6-7 “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger.” Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (God with us) God is in Control: God protects His infant Son and powerless parents from the evil and powerful King Herod through angelic intervention and Divine dreams.” http://www.lensykes.com/archives/288] And Jesus says that we must have a supernatural birth (“you must be born again” – John 3:3) to become an eternal child of God. ”He came to His own, and those who were His own (the Jewish nation as a whole) did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:11-13)
3. The Perfect, sinless life of the God-Man Jesus Christ – [“BEHOLD THE MAN — “Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold, the Man!” (John 19:5). How then shall we live? Jesus the Man is our Model and Exemplar on how to live. Not St. Paul or Mother Teresa or Billy Graham or any human being. God calls us to be conformed to the image of His Son, not anyone else. (Rom. 8:29) And though Paul said he fell short of this, yet he pressed on toward Christ likeness. (See Phil. 3:10-14) Jesus showed absolute dependence on God and absolute submission to His will. (John 5:19; Matt. 26:39) and calls us to live the same life of humility before God. (Phil 2:5-7) With man, He was the servant of all and yet spoke the truth in love and often hard truths. (See John 6:41-69): “Teacher, we know you are afraid of no man; for You (Jesus) are impartial and do not regard either the person or the position of anyone.” (Matt. 22:16) So we too are to – “Submit to one another (serve one another) out of reverence for Christ.” (Eph. 5:21) But we are not to seek the praise of man for our service but the praise of God. –“How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44) And our Lord Jesus as our brother understands us and sympathizes with us and can help us like no person can: “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15-16) http://www.lensykes.com/archives/318]
4. [“BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD – “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Jesus was God’s Lamb of sacrifice. –“Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb.” (Gen. 22:8) And Jesus’ death on the cross fulfilled this prophecy. “For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.” (1 Cor. 5:7) Even as the believing Israelites had to put the blood of a lamb on the doorposts of their house so the death angel would “pass over” the Jews (Exodus 12:1-29) so we must by faith trust Christ’s shed blood (and not our good works) for the forgiveness of our sins. And the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ shows that there is no person in all of human history who suffered like Him and therefore we should never question our suffering in light of His suffering.
“But many were amazed when they saw him.
His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human,
and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
nothing to attract us to him.
3 He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.
4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
5 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.” (Isaiah 52:14; 53:2-5)
5. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ – “The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, 4 and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit; He is Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 1:3-4) The resurrection of Jesus Christ validates the fact that all He said about Himself was true and that God accepted His sacrificial death as full payment for our sins. “And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.” (1 Corinthians 15:16-19) [“The sign of the prophet Jonas, Christ’s resurrection, was intended for the last conviction, Mt. 12:39, 40. Those that would not be convinced by that would be convinced by nothing.” Henry, Matthew: Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible : Complete and Unabridged in One Volume. Peabody : Hendrickson, 1996, c1991, S. Ro 1:1] Also the fact that Jesus came back in a glorified body (unlike others whom He or others raised from the dead; they came back to life in a natural body and died again); our resurrected body will be like Jesus’ glorified body: “He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” (Philippians 3:21) And the resurrection proves there is life after death (versus annihilation) and the promise of the bliss of heaven forever. [“As John Eldredge says
in his book on heaven, The Journey of Desire, “We can only hope for what we desire.” If we are hoping for earthly things more than heavenly things we have a sub-Biblical understanding of our Christian faith. As Paul
says, “If only in this life we have hoped in Christ we are the most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:19) Paul argues in Romans 8:18-25 that the hope that came to us at our salvation is nothing less than the restoration of
all things (the natural creation and all of God’s sons/children, vv.19-21) to the glory of God. This means our full redemption to Christ-likeness –nothing less than a sinless state of perfection of our spirit, soul and body.
“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:24-25) Also, note the words “eager expectation” and “groaning” indicating Paul’s and our longings for eternity. (Romans 8:18-25) This is to say that if our hopes as a Christian are for anything less than Jesus’ Second Coming and His reign of righteousness over all the earth (2 Peter 3:13; Isaiah 11:9) then they are far less than what Scripture and our deepest longings call us to hope for.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8) http://www.lensykes.com/archives/26]
6. The ascension of Jesus Christ – “I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.” (Ephesians 1:19-23) The conquering, victorious King has returned home with the spoils, “His glorious inheritance” (Eph. 1:18) – you and I and all who believe in Him. And now there is a God-Man in heaven in His resurrected, glorified, tangible body. The ascension means that a Human Being is now ruling the universe as the last Adam (Jesus) does what the first Adam (mankind) was supposed to do. “The Lord (God) says to my Lord (the Messiah), Sit at My right hand, until I make Your adversaries Your footstool.2 The Lord will send forth from Zion the scepter of Your strength; rule, then, in the midst of Your foes.3 Your people will offer themselves willingly in the day of Your power, in the beauty of holiness and in holy array out of the womb of the morning; to You [will spring forth] Your young men, who are as the dew.” (Psalm 110:1-3) [“The LORD is the Hebrew name Yahweh and refers to God the Father. “to my Lord”: According to Jesus’ interpretation of the passage (Matt. 22:41–45; Mark 12:35–37; Luke 20:41–44), this is a reference to the Son of God in heaven in the presence of the Father. David himself confesses the Son to be his Lord, that is, his master or sovereign. “at My right hand”: This position of high honor beside the Father was given to the Savior upon His resurrection and ascension (Acts 2:33–36; 1 Cor. 15:20–28; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:13). The Savior’s placing His feet on His foes depicts the utter defeat of the enemies of Christ. Paul too describes this complete victory of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:25, 26; Eph. 1:22, 23). “Rule”: The Father commands the Son to take His kingdom back from His enemies. The outcome of this final battle was determined long ago (Psalm 47:3). “your people”: The description in vv. 2, 3 of the people who join the coming King in His great battle accords well with that in Rev. 19:14. “From the womb of the morning” describes the volunteer army in their robust and fresh vigor; they are ready for a holy battle.” Radmacher, Earl D. ; Allen, Ronald Barclay ; House, H. Wayne: Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nashville : T. Nelson Publishers, 1999, S. Ps 110] Jesus said, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7) “Therefore having been exalted (the ascension) to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.” (Acts 2:33) At Jesus’ ascension He poured out the Holy Spirit on all believers and now every believer can experience the manifest presence of the Lord and all believers at the same time. Whereas when Jesus was on earth His manifest presence was limited to His physical presence, but now both individuals (Rev. 3:20) and two or three gathered in His Name (Matt. 18:20) can experience His manifest presence.
7. The Return of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords – Finally, Jesus will return and establish the kingdom promised to Israel, His earthly Millennial Kingdom and at its conclusion judge all those who have rejected Him and cast them into the lake of fire and then create a new heaven and new earth (the eternal state). [“What is this world coming to? We can say with confidence, absolute and eternal perfection and bliss for those who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ or eternal misery and torment for those who reject Him. There is no middle ground. Jesus said, “He who is not with me is against me” (Matt. 12:30). Let’s take a closer look at our King and what He is about to do: “I saw heaven standing open (“heaven opened” i.e., by the Father) and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11-16) Suddenly God the Father opens the gate of heaven and King Jesus bursts forth on a white stallion (not a donkey this time) with the armies of heaven following Him (saints of all ages and probably angels too) and quickly destroys His enemies. (Although we His people are with Him, I really don’t think He will need any help.) Here we see Jesus make holy war (with justice he makes war) and the white horse pictures a triumphant general who has conquered his enemies. The sharp sword is the powerful Word of God (the sword of the Spirit) and the One Who said, “let there be light” and spoke the vast universe into being (out of nothing – ex nihilo – Heb. 11:3), will now destroy His enemies (Psalm 110:1) with the same “Word of His power” (Heb. 1:3). “He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood.” He executes God’s furious wrath and the accumulated blood of His enemies flows as high as the horse’s bridle (Rev. 14:20). He will then rule the world, all of His people, saved Jews and Gentiles from Jerusalem, for a thousand years as King of kings and Lord of lords meting out perfect and swift judgment (with an iron scepter or rod of iron). According to Psalm 2:6, God will fulfill His purpose of setting His Son on the throne over the earth, “Yet I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” As King over all the earth, Christ will fulfill hundreds of prophecies that anticipate such a situation. As we will see later, the millennial kingdom will begin with only those who believe in Christ but the ones who are saved during the Tribulation will enter the millennium in their natural bodies and bear children. Many of those born in the millennium will not receive Christ as Savior and in the final revolt (Rev. 20:7-10) He will destroy them. But during the millennium even those who secretly reject Jesus will be in total subjection to His rule. The comments here describe a pre-millennial view of end times. Post-millennialists believe that the church will grow in strength and will bring God’s rule over all areas of society, political, economic, education, etc. and usher in the millennial kingdom before the second coming of Christ. This view does not seem to line up with Scripture or history.” http://www.lensykes.com/archives/997] [“History does not quietly and gradually merge into the kingdom of Christ, it comes with a fury and a viciousness, in a cataclysmic divine intervention from heaven that is sudden. And furthermore, the end will not come because things get better. The end will come because things get worse. The church will never conquer the kingdoms of this world, the church will never take over the social institutions of this age. There are not going to be better and better days ahead because of Christian influence in the world. And it’s clear in the book of Revelation that it’s getting worse and worse until the King intervenes.” John MacArthur] The eternal state: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. 5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:1-5)
[“The true, beautiful and good is not a fairy tale. We will live happily ever after – forever and ever. But we must keep the vision of the kingdom ever before us. “Don’t read the Times; read the eternities.” (Thoreau) Dallas Willard in exhorting us to live the “eternal kind of life” now here on earth said the biggest rival to keeping a vision for God’s kingdom is busyness. We must make time to read God’s story and find our story in His story and bring His kingdom to earth through our time, talents, treasures and truth-speaking. It’s a great and exciting work and the benefits are “out of this world.” Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Enter in by faith, by believing in Jesus and personally receiving Him as your sin-bearer and Savior and your
Lord, Lover and King. (John 1:12) Surrender your whole life to be set apart for His kingdom purposes in your life. (Romans 12:1-2) Someday heaven. Just wait; keep hoping. It’s coming. He’s coming! This is not a misplaced, unfounded, fading hope. “And they lived happily ever after” is true.
“The Spirit and the bride say ‘Come’” and Jesus says,
“Yes, I am coming quickly.” “Lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Revelation 22:17, 20; Luke 21:28) http://www.lensykes.com/archives/26]