|Create Date||December 23, 2017|
|Last Updated||December 23, 2017|
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The Hope of Advent: The New Life in Christ
Presented by Gordon Green - Redhill 10 December 2017
The essence of the story of the birth of Jesus: whoever takes the Son gets it all.
1 Corinthians 3:21-23
The one who has the Son has it all. But exactly what is included in the “all”? Just think of all the things we have because God came to earth as a human being. I think we could summarise it with the words “new life”.
Imagine what the world would be like if God, in the person of Jesus Christ, had never come to earth.
Many hospitals would not exist, orphanages, hospices, Red Cross etc - started by people who had hearts full of compassion for those who were ill and suffering – because of their personal experience with Jesus Christ and being transformed by his love.
We would have half a Bible. We would not have heard of the love of a personal God. We wouldn’t know what God is like. We wouldn’t know we could have a relationship with a personal God. We would have no hope of His returning to the earth. There would be no Christmas carols or hymns. Without Jesus Mary Magdalene would have died in her sin. The disciples would have done nothing more with their lives than fish for a living. The list goes on – Paul, the blind would have remained in their darkness, the deaf would have still lived in silence.
Because Jesus came he has taught us not to use the values of this world to determine our worth, that our value to God is more important than what anyone else thinks about us. God takes people who are not seen as very valuable by the world and places a very high value on them, because that is the kind of God he is. How do we know that? Because we see it in the life of Jesus over and over again. The outcasts of society seemed to be his specialty. The sinful and sick, the poor and weak were the people he pulled out of the trash and transformed into a treasure.
A Christian teacher and writer spent some time in a quiet little fishing village in America. It is where artists spent time to paint, write their poetry and so on. He got to know them. They fascinated him. “Apart from all their art, they had an ongoing challenge where they would pick up junk mainly from the beach where it had been washed up by the waters, or left in the sand for a few years and also from the local garbage dump. The artists would bring some of this junk or trash and made a little pile of trash and put it in front of one of the artists. His challenge was to make something beautiful out of that trash. “I would look at it— I mean you had just bits and pieces of what had been somebody’s delight at one time, bits and pieces of old dreams that now were shattered almost beyond recognition, bits and pieces that had been smashed up against rocks by angry waves— here it was, just a pile of trash off the beach and out of the dump. But the artist who received it—this was the challenge to his artistic ability, and you could see as he accepted his little pile of trash, the delight. He was excited. Certainly he never rejected any part of it. This was the challenge. He was going to take this pile of trash and make it into something beautiful. It would seem the more impossible it looked, the more he delighted. It’s going to show off his ability. In fact he almost treasured it – “It was ‘my’ pile of trash”. “This is ‘my’ challenge.” He owned it - ‘this is mine.’”
He said he would watch the artist, hour after hour, day after day, “the artist would—you’d have to say he caressed the pieces. He would pick it up and he would caress it as to, ‘what am I going to do with this?’ It’s as if he became one with each part and with the whole, and he’s passing it through his artistic mind and imagination. Each piece was precious to him. And the only way I can say it is that as he caressed it, loved it actually, and passed it through his incredible mind, it died to being trash, and within him it was resurrected into something beautiful that conformed to a plan inside his head.”
And he put it together. Once it was just junk but now it was a beautiful design and it would be sold down in the market – often at quite a high price (it obviously depended on the ability of the artist). He owned it and would sign it.
God - the Great Artist - took the pile of trash that is our life, in terms of decisions we have made, in terms of abuse that has been given to us. Love took us—you, me—he took us. Love caressed us. Love took your life. How would you describe your life? A heap of trash—broken, abused, hurt, twisted, distorted? We all have our hurts. God caressed the trash that other people had made us. God picked us up and as Ephesians 2:10 says, we are God’s workmanship. “Workmanship” actually speaks of an artist, a poem, or a beautiful painting - a work of art. That’s who we are. That’s new life in Jesus Christ. But if Jesus never came….
Remember; Advent promises new life in Jesus Christ.
We see this in Ephesians1; “We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” What are these spiritual blessings? Adoption, grace, redemption, forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit, abundant life, a share in the Trinitarian life etc etc.
Just think – our sins are forgiven! What is the worst thing you have ever done — the thing that makes you feel so ashamed? Now think of what it would be like if Jesus had never come and you could not be forgiven for your sin. What would that be like? Your guilt would never be relieved, and condemnation would always be hanging over your head. Forgiveness brings freedom. We can forgive ourselves and others because we have experienced the liberating forgiveness that Jesus Christ came to give us.
But if Jesus had never come, we would have only commandments to follow. Cold commandments with no relationship and no ability to keep them. There would be no talk of forgiveness and reconciliation to God, only laws to be obeyed. Grace would not be a word in our vocabulary. But this is more than forgiveness, it brings about a transformation in our lives. We are being transformed into his the image of Jesus Christ - we are becoming like him. The Holy Spirit is working in us to produce his image. Pray Hebrews 13:20-21.
Remember Advent promises a new life in Christ. It also means we have the hope of eternal existence/afterlife/heaven. Those who are dead “in Christ” will be resurrected and will be with the Lord forever (1 Thess 4:13-17). The promise of an afterlife is the hope we have (Col 1:5). What would life feel like if there was no hope of heaven? What would you say at the funeral of a loved one if Jesus had not come? There would be no hope beyond the grave. Just the coldness of a grave. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Corinthians 15:19).
Because Jesus came we know what God is like. We are adopted, redeemed. We have the Holy Spirit. Our sins have been forgiven. Our hearts and minds are being transformed. We have received the promise of heaven and eternal life in its fullness. What better gifts could we ask for?
1 Corinthians 3:21-23
“…all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.”
“…his divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness….”
“He who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”