Classic Christianity – Bob George – New Years P3 (01-02-19)
Thank you so much for tuning into Classic Christianity radio with Bob George, who has been on the air for over 30 years, teaching people from God’s word. Our prayer for you is that you grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us now join Bob as he presents practical biblical insights to help people experience faith, hope and love in Jesus Christ.
Bob shares from Luke 2, reviewing the various appearances of angels, announcing events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ. Then we also have revelation by the Holy Spirit through an old man name Simeon and a widow named Anna, both righteous in the sight of God, often in the temple in worship and prayer. Simeon prophesises that salvation is even for the Gentiles. The Gentiles can be saved the same way as the Jew, by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Simeon also says Jesus will cause the rising and falling of many and a sword will pierce your own soul too. Anna prophesises concerning this child to be for the redemption of Israel. What could all this mean? Bob explains.
In a previous audio, we read about various angelic appearances. Gabriel appeared to Zechariah to announce the birth of John the Baptist, a messenger to prepare the hearts of many to receive the Lord. Gabriel also appears to Mary that a child born in her will be by the Holy Spirit and will be called Immanuel, God with us, and then to Joseph, comforting him to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife, and telling him to call the child Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins. Then just prior to the birth of Jesus, a host of angels announced the news to shepherds announcing that the Messiah is about to be born. So God came first to Israel to bring a message of salvation. But was this message just for the Jews?
Follow along in Luke 2.
After Jesus birth, according to Jewish law, the child born is to be circumcised on the eighth day. On that day he was given the name Jesus just as the angel had told Joseph. Also according to Jewish purification rites, Mary was in seclusion for 40 days. After those days were over, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem to consecrate him to the Lord. According to Jewish law, they were to offer a sacrifice of two young pigeons or a pair of doves.
While there for this consecration of Jesus, Simeon came to meet them and prophesied. He was a righteous and devout man, a very old man, and the Holy Spirit had promised him that he would not die until he saw the Lord’s promised Messiah. When he saw Jesus, the Holy Spirit spoke through him and he prophesied.
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
So we have now read about angelic announcements, dreams, and now the Holy Spirit. He was told he would not die until he saw the Lord’s Christ. He can now die in peace. A promise was given to him that he would not die until he saw the Lord’s Christ.
But notice also that he prophesied that Jesus came to be a light to the Gentiles. The Gentiles too were always in the heart of God, as proclaimed through the prophets. Yet, did the Jews even think the Gentiles had any hope? How impossible in the mind of a Jew to even think it possible that a Gentile would come to salvation the same way they would! The Jews were also blinded as to the way of salvation. But the Gentile! They are total heathens, into temple prostitution, idol worship, and have no clue as to the one true God. The only testimony of the one true God was through Israel and through Judaism. Did Simeon even fully understand what the Holy Spirit was saying through him? Was he just quoting from what he had read in scripture, but without understanding? Like a lot of things, people read words or sing words in a song like “Immanuel, God with us” but have no understanding. Mary pondered these things in her heart. Did Mary have a clue about the salvation of the Gentile? So Jesus came not just for the Jew, but the Gentile too.
So this is what predestination and election is all about. The Gentiles too are predestined to be conformed to the image of God just as the Jew. What then is the way of salvation for both Jew and Gentile through Jesus Christ?
For in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans we read about this righteousness that is by faith in Jesus Christ, for both the Jew and the Gentile, to anyone who believes.
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
The Law and the Prophets testified. They foretold of the day that both the Jew and the Gentile will be saved by the same faith. All of mankind was in the heart of God, to be made righteous, from the very beginning. Both the Jew and the Gentile were both predestined for salvation. Yes, in God’s plan, he came first to the Jew and then to the Gentile. The Jew boasted in the law and the Gentile knew nothing of the Law. Yet both were sinners even before the law was even given. Both were born spiritually dead and in need of life. God worked first with the Jew, and brought them the law so they may see their utter sinfulness and seek a savior. But the Jews sought their own righteousness by observing the law. Yet the Gentile knew nothing of the law, not even seeking God and yet were found by God and believed. The Gentiles heard the message concerning Christ, and believed the message and were declared righteous apart from observing the law. The righteousness that comes by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, his death, burial, and particularly his resurrection is what saves. So Jesus set aside the law, the Old Covenant with all its demands and regulation, and all the sins of the world were laid on him. So the law was set aside for a better covenant with better promises. For the law could never save anyone nor was it ever designed to save anyone. It was never designed to save but to reveal the hearts of men, that they are already dead. So Jesus instituted a New Covenant among men, that he instituted by his shed blood. He now offers eternal life as a gift. His righteousness to be given to man who has no righteousness and no means to obtain such righteousness. So Jesus neutralized everyone by talking the law away. There is nothing a Jew or Gentile could ever boast about.
So then, whoever tries to be righteous before God by obeying the law are self righteous in their own eyes and yet are blind to the fact that they have no righteousness before a perfectly holy God. Who then can be saved? How? By faith through Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. The self righteous Jew, Gentile, religionist, however packaged, is still self righteous and will never go into the kingdom of God. If anyone does not see his total depravity he will never come to Christ. The law was meant to help someone see their total depravity. As such the law is like a mirror, it can reveal dirt on your face but has no power to wipe the dirt away. Jesus is the resurrection power that raised the dead to life.
So how does a self righteous person think? The self righteous person says, “Oh, I could never murder anyone”. Bob replies, “Then all you need is a 90% Jesus. And if you cannot commit adultery, then all you need is 80% Jesus”. So if we keep going with this reasoning, then just a little dab will do you. Listen, every person has the propensity to do great evil. So then, to feel guilty you have blown it is ridiculous, for we have all blown it. You turn to Jesus for His righteousness for we never had any to begin with. We do not need a 90% Jesus, an 80% Jesus, or anything less. We need a 100% Jesus.
Do you know that when you have Jesus Christ, His Holy Spirit living in you, then you already have everything you need? For He is eternal life, with all wisdom and knowledge and power, residing in you, and His complete love with the best in mind for you.
2 Peter 1:3
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
Ponder over Simeon’s prophesy. What is he saying?
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Marveled indeed! What does he mean by saying this child shall cause the falling and rising of many? How many Jews persist in denying Jesus is God even today, a blindness in part until the full measure of the Gentiles come in? So do all come to faith in Jesus, believing who he is and what he did for them? No. Sadly not all men will choose eternal life in Christ Jesus. God desires all men to be saved but man has the free will to choose whether they want Christ in their life or not.
So Jesus is drawing a line between the lost and the saved. When someone is saved they have the Spirit of Christ living in them, who is their comforter and counselor. The wisdom from God is in conflict with the wisdom of this world.
And what does he mean by saying “a sign spoken against so thoughts of many hearts will be revealed?” People are okay talking about God all day, even saying “man upstairs” or “good Lord” yet when Jesus is talked about, then there is immediate division on your hands. Why is that? Think about what Jesus said.
19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
So then, it takes humility to admit you sinned or you are a sinner. But if you love your sin, do you really want to come into the light? Men suppress truth in their unrighteousness. And those hard of heart will even hate the righteous! Why? Because their wicked deeds and hearts are being exposed. The lost can only think about gratifying their own flesh. If they are power hungry like Herod and the truth he shares appears as a threat to them, then they will do all kinds of things to see to it Jesus is not in their way. But if you are broken over sin, then is your heart in a better condition to come into the light. Jesus wants all men to come into the light so he may give them a new heart with a new life. John the Baptist came to prepare the hearts of men so that they will be ready to receive the savior, to listen to him and follow him for now. After Jesus rose from the dead, then there was no longer a need to follow him, for Christ resides in their hearts always, the moment they believed.
How then can men come into the light if they do not even know their own condition of their soul, their state of sin. That is where the sword of the Spirit of truth exposes the darkness. So Jesus came to bring a sword to pierce the hearts of men. Truth divides the humble from the proud and the broken-hearted from the self righteous. Religion tries to get everybody together, to have unity and peace. But when doing so, they must water down the message that pierces the condition of the hearts of men. And really just a false peace and a false unity, that of the way of the world, so as to remain dead in sin. When you believe something to be true, something that sets you free and changes you, then you share that truth. But when that truth is not received by the proud and self righteous, then by necessity truth must divide. As the evangelist Mike Gendron once wrote, “Know truth, know division. No truth, no division.”
So religion puts people under law and is in conflict with grace and truth, which Jesus came full of. How many times were there conflicts between Jesus and the Pharisees? The Pharisees accused Jesus of changing the laws of Moses. The Pharisees even accused Jesus of blasphemy, as a mere man claiming himself to be God, and in their hearts they wanted to kill Jesus, for they only saw Jesus as a threat to their self-righteous authority and man-made religion. Yet to the multitudes, he spoke truth with such authority and grace, speaking truths of a new covenant to come, of righteousness and sin, and parables to explain spiritual truth. Lives were changed, the blind could see, the lame could walk, and the real change was internal. Mary Magdalene had seven demons cast out of her, followed Jesus and tended to his needs. She is the same woman who met Jesus at a Pharisees house, who met Jesus there and wiped Jesus feet with her hair. As Jesus said, he who is forgiven much loves much. Jesus told her that though your sins are many, they are forgiven. Everywhere the gospel is preached, Jesus said, she would be remembered.
So when Simeon prophesied concerning Jesus that he would cause the rising and falling of many, he also said Jesus was destined for that. Truth by necessity must divide. Jesus came full of grace and truth. Grace is extended to all but to those who have believed the message of grace, there is new life. To those who refuse the message of grace, then their sin remains.
1 John 5:11-13
11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son
Jesus said he did not come to bring peace but a sword. A sword that divides the lost from the saved, a truth that separates. When you believe the truth, then you have to separate yourself from the way of the world. That is just the way it is. So you will have people who will hate you for what you believe. The only need of acceptance is of Christ, not of peers. For peers, those who are contrary to the way of truth, will drag you from Christ. Jesus becomes a divider of mankind. There is no compromise in the gospel. Jesus is God or He is not God. If you don’t believe He is God, then join the rest of the world. If you believe Jesus is God and savior, that he has come to save you, then by that very nature, you will be controversial and separate from the rest of the world. So do not be surprised if the world hates you!
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
But when the Holy Spirit lives in a believer, the believer is a new creation and wants to know truth so he can walk in new freedom. The Holy Spirit lives in you to be your comforter and counselor. What is a counselor? Does not a counselor instruct you?
Ponder again over what “spoken against … thoughts of many heart be revealed”. What do the thoughts of God do to your and my heart? It reveals our thinking! That is what the Spirit of God is for when we have stinky thinking. The Spirit lives in you to renew your mind on truth and free you from error. The only way to separate me from error of the world is by the truth of the word of God. The word of God is a plumb line, something to gauge proper thinking, and the word of God is in you. Internalize, have someone inside you, who is in the process of renewing the mind, teaching truth and setting you free from bondage due to error. So God sent you a counselor, one who gives advice. Do we need advice? We all need advise. That is what discipline is! When disciplined by the Lord everyone seems to shutter. Instead, discipline is good and not a bad word at all. God is disciplining you for your good like a coach training an athlete for success. Nor is discipline something that comes upon you but rather remains on you. Under the discipline of the Lord always because He never sleeps. He is always there, always teaching us truth from error. The Spirit sets us free from error that is bombarding us because Satan is not sleeping either.
Then later after Simeon spoke, an old widow named Anna speaks to Mary and Joseph. Being a devout and righteous person also, the Holy Spirit prophesied through her. Among other things not recorded, she said Jesus will be the one who will redeem Israel.
39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth.
Bob then has everyone turn to Matthew 2 because only in Matthew are the next events picked up following Luke 2:39. We know there is now a 2 year period, a custom to return to Jerusalem every 2 years. So the assumption is that a year later, Mary and Joseph have gone back to Jerusalem, staying nearby in Bethlehem.
Read in Matthew 2 about King Herod and the Magi, what questions King Herod asked the Magi, for what purpose, and what kind of person is Herod. What kind of people were the Magi?
“After Jesus was born … time of king Herod … where is the one born king of Jews … we saw star in East.”
There is no place in scripture talking about there being three wise men. “We three kings of orient are” is tradition. The truth is we really don’t know how many were there and it is really not that important. Nevertheless, the magi were there. Known as Herod the Great but he was really the most vicious man who ever lived, a horrible, mean, detestable, vicious human being. Herod was also a maniac.
He pulled together the chief priests and teachers of the law and asked them where Christ is to be born? The magi replied, “in Bethlehem of Judea” for this is what the prophets had written (Micah 5:2,4). They knew what it said and believed the scriptures were reliable. They quoted to Herod out of the scriptures.
The phrase “out of you will come a ruler” was bad news to Herod. “Some king going to replace me”. Job security is what killed Jesus. “If we allow this man to continue before long everyone follow him and we will lose our place and our position. Their position was as teachers of the law. Jesus teaches grace. If he teaches grace then who needs a law teacher. So if we let this grace teaching go on, we will lose our jobs for I’m not going to teach grace and I do not know anything about it. In order to enter grace you have to humble yourself and be willing to put aside your education. I am not about to do that.” The Apostle Paul considered everything dung in comparison to knowing Jesus Christ His Lord. “And if I accept grace then have to put aside law. I am not going to do that. I have a PhD from Jerusalem University, and proud of my degree, and nobody knows more than me.” Such was the attitude of the religious leaders. Job security is much stronger than what you and I think.
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