on New Years Eve preaching (sermon summaries 12.31.06)

The messages on this day were a great blessing to our church family. My oldest son preached first, then son number two, then I came on ‘batting cleanup’ in the afternoon service. We concluded our exposition of the Christmas passages with a look at the wise men, the young Christ in Nazareth, and the genealogy in Luke. Here is a summary:

Duncan preached on this theme: ‘Trust God whose providential promises cannot be thwarted.’ He was picking up on the regular notation in Mt 2.1-18 of fulfilled prophecy. He pointed out that Herod, the priests and scribes, and ultimately Satan, were troubled by the coming of the wise men so they were interested in the messianic prophecies in Micah in order to thwart God’s purposes in order to thwart God’s plan. When you think about it, it seems odd that God would allow such an ‘in your face’ announcement of the birth of Christ to such a man as Herod at a time when the babe was most vulnerable. Yet God was working his whole word out – first, the place of the birth, second the arrival of the wise men (see Num. 24:17; Ps. 72:10, 15; Song of Solomon 3:6; Isa. 60:6), third the flight to and return from Egypt (see Hos 11.1), fourth, the weeping in Rama (see Jer 31.15-16). The passage ends with a very sombre story – the death of the infants in Bethlehem. But here is the lesson for us… we, too, live in the midst of the purposes of the almight God. His purposes cannot be thwarted. The call for us is to trust him, though everything around us looks like despair.

Rory preached on this theme: You and I must be utterly subject to the Father. Rory took this primarily from the example of Christ in Lk 2.39-52, which the human Jesus learned of his adoptive father’s example as seen in Mt 2.19-23 among other passages. Rory noted how we as men are called to subjection, both to earthly authorities, like parents, and the authority of God. Then he showed how willingly and immediately Joseph lived out a life in subjection to God’s authority, immediately responding to every bit of divine revelation he was given, whether it be to go ahead and marry his espoused wife, or to leave Bethlehem immediately, or to return from Egypt, or to go to Nazareth. Each step of the way, Joseph trusted God and subjected himself to God’s authority. Joseph and Mary created a home environment for Jesus where he not only learned the Scriptures but saw them lived out explicitly as well… they went ‘every year’ to the Passover in Jerusalem, a requirement for Jewish men, but a matter of regular worship for this Jewish family, man and wife (and children). When the parents discovered Jesus missing, they found him in subjection to his Heavenly Father’s authority, teaching the teachers and subsequently teaching the parents. Nevertheless, Jesus (the Creator of all) meekly followed his parents home, subjecting himself to them. The result was spiritual growth and stability. God prepared him for his magnificent ministry by teaching him subjection, both to human and divine authority. We can only prepare ourselves for the Lord’s work and his will for our live by subjecting ourselves to the mighty hand of God as he reveals his will to us through our authorities, Word, church, and home.

The last message I entitled ‘Genealogy of Man‘. We began the Christmas series with the ‘Genealogy of the King’ and Matthew’s emphasis on Christ’s place in God’s grand scheme. We close with Luke’s emphasis on Christ’s work among men, his mission. The genealogies were contrasted, to note some of the distinctive emphases that each has. [All the genealogies in Scripture have meaning and are a rich and profitable study to search these meanings out. The longer the genealogy, the more important the meaning and sometimes the harder to discover!] This is where Luke’s genealogy is headed: ‘The man Jesus is uniquely the Son of God, the only Saviour of the world.’ Luke is most likely giving us Mary’s genealogy [lots of debate here, but I think enough evidence to fairly boldly make that statement]. The list commences with Jesus beginning his ministry at 30 years of age… Luke is interested in the mission. The list contains mostly commoners. Jesus, in his mission came for every man. There are not many mighty who are saved. The genealogy in its regression from Christ to Adam focuses on the connection between Christ and Adam – First Adam a living soul, Second Adam a quickening spirit and the First Man and Second Man, the one of the earth, earthy, the other of heaven, heavenly [this speaks of Christs ability to do what Adam could not]. From Adam we get death. From Christ we get life. The mission of Christ is the mission of life. That is why he came. And then the list in Luke closes with ‘son of God’. Of course, its first reference is to Adam, son of God, made in the image of God. But in Adam, that image is marred. In Christ, the true Son of God, that image is restored.

The whole doctrine of the incarnation of Jesus Christ is focused like a laser beam on this concept: God became man to restore man to his place as the new creation of God in Christ Jesus.

The man Jesus is uniquely the Son of God, the only Saviour of the world.

Well, a great day was had by all. God blessed us with a special number in the first service by some of our young men and the violin accompaniment throughout the day by Duncan’s fiancee, Meg. We followed our services with a New Years Eve fellowship all afternoon, including many games (and our annual ‘Sjoul bak’ tournament [Dutch shuffleboard]). After supper, we showed the film, St John in Exile starring Dean Jones in a masterful monologue that captures the essence of John’s writings. It is absolutely gripping, I highly recommend it. Dean Jones came to Christ in the early seventies and appears to have a good testimony of salvation. This performance was filmed at the Church on the Way, a charismatic church in California. Of course, we have differences in theology and in association with this group, but we certainly recommend this piece as a helpful resource. It sticks pretty close to the Scriptures with only a few minor errors. But the power of the crucifixion and the resurrection are vividly portrayed.

The film closed the day off with a great spiritual emphasis. We all headed home after about 11 hours of fellowship around the Word and with the body. If you would like to see a slide show put together by one of hour ladies, you can see some of the highlights of the day here.