THE BABE OF BETHLEHEM – THE ULTIMATE CURE! By Pastor Bill Morgan – Grace Churches

As the announcement of the availability of a vaccine for Covid-19 brought jubilation to the citizens of the world, in this incredible year of 2020 – much more did the proclamation, by the angel of the Lord, heralding the birth of the Saviour of the world, over 2000 years ago!

 

“Now there were in the same country shepherds, living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.  For there is born to you this day, in the city of David, a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you.  You will find a Babe, wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.’  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men.’”  (Luke 2:8-14)

 

This pandemic year has been quite trying for most citizens with the loss of our freedom of travel, and visiting, as well as economic hardships.  Some have even felt the terrible loss of loved ones.  The vaccines being approved are a real light in our somewhat dark world.  The announcement by the angel concerning God the Son taking on human flesh and visiting our world, truly was “good tidings of great joy”.  The spiritual darkness which had covered the earth for 4000 years was about to be rolled away!  The way to pardon and peace with God was about to be thrown open to all mankind!  Liberty was about to be proclaimed to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind.  The mighty truth was about to be announced that God could be just, and yet – for the sake of Christ – justify the ungodly.  Salvation was no longer to be seen through types and figures, as recorded in the Old Testament Scriptures – all of which pointed to the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.  The knowledge of God was no longer to be confined to the Jews, but to be offered to the entire Gentile world!

 

The “Good News” of a Saviour came to the Jewish Nation at a time of great oppression by the Roman rulers.  The Jewish people were seeking freedom to live as an independent nation.  The Jews ( or for that matter, any other nation, including us, here in Canada ) did not realize, the greatest deliverance that we all need is deliverance in our spiritual lives.  We need to be redeemed from hopelessness, spiritual darkness, and death.  The Babe in the manger at Bethlehem, whose birth we celebrate each Christmas Day, was to be called Jesus, which means Saviour!!  “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary, your wife.  For He, which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Spirit.  And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”  (Matthew 1:20-21)

 

True freedom is:  to be forgiven by God, given a clear conscience, brought to be at peace with God, and granted eternal life!  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord . . . . I am the Way, the Truth and the Life . . . . And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”  (Romans 6:23 – John 14:6 – John 8:32)

 

THE BABE OF BETHLEHEM – FREEDOM IN CHRIST FOREVER!

Real Knowledge

On a television show in which issues of the day were discussed and televised for public viewing, Dr Anthony Fauci was given an interview in which he spoke about the Covid virus. During a brief interlude he reflected on the state of the world and pointed out the growing disbelief in scientific facts and anti-authority present in the world today. It was insightful and undoubtedly what he said holds true for Canadians and our neighbors to the South of us. What is now being observed by philosophers in our postmodern age is the loss of confidence in past achievements from past generations ago; now being discarded as though ingenuity and findings into technical and scientific fields should be distrusted. Now a great deal of skepticism overlays what once looked promising. In looking back, the Enlightenment period was supposedly to be the great watershed moment in our history where science and reason were acclaimed by many to be the potentates that would bring us into an era of peace and prosperity. This never really happened as we had presupposed. Some say that the disruptive and rebellious activity happening today are symptoms of unfulfilled hopes of a better life that the Industrial age was supposed to bring. Pessimism has set in instead and coupled with it is the rejection that you can know anything for sure, and because objective knowledge is discriminate by nature, this has led to the notion that all thoughts and beliefs are then to be accepted as equally true; no matter how absurd the contradictions are that may be found in any of them. It has been accurately described as a walk back into chaos. David Lynn, a professor of philosophy and law at Boston University, writes that many postmodern theorists advise us to embrace mayhem and consider it apropos to redefine reality. Postmodernity tends to say “No” to anything that has to do with “order.” Evanescent reality (mine, vanishing or fading) is a common theme running through postmodernism.
What should be stunning to all of us who have embraced traditional values and truths is this absurd shift away from our long-established view of reality, which, as we know it, exists independent of feeling-drawn perceptions, quirks, and notions. What we would have once considered irrational and imaginative, now becomes reality to some, and what was once considered reality no longer exists anymore to these same proponents who host subjective reasoning to a whole other level. What follows then is that your reality is not my reality; what we once thought was actual now is left entirely to the individual to decide what he wants reality to be. It is left to the individual to decide his own reality. This is all nonsensical thinking; it is illusionary and can only lead to misery and disappointment. Unlike a magician who draws on illusions and impressions while on stage to change our sense of the real to the illusory; we are left fooled, but not for long. After the show is over so are the tricks; the act has been entertaining but amounted to little more than a sleight of hand coupled with cleverly devised acts of showmanship; planned deception at its best and it worked. To advance this illustration further to its logical conclusion, you may have seen the vanishing elephant act on You Tube. A group of witnesses had been positioned around a magician promoting the idea that anything he does would not go undetected. While most could watch the magician’s performance up close, only a select few of the witnesses could see just behind the curtain which had divided these few from the rest of the group of onlookers. These few were actually paid associates who had agreed to fake amazement when the elephant appears almost out of thin air when in fact, he came in undetected from behind the curtain hidden by the curtain from most who made up the circle of people except for the few at the back who were in on the deception. While this feat fooled many, it is simply entertainment. In postmodernism it is not seen as illusion at all by those that seek to substitute reality for what they perceive it to be. What is just as troubling is that they do not consider their own perception of reality to be a deception. This is dangerous thinking because it rejects the idea that there are absolutes such as moral truths, or that you can even be in possession of knowable realities and that the fallacious should be separated from the true and understood differently.
Those who abandon moral absolutes, as have Black Lives Matters and Antifa who promote violence and destruction mostly under the auspices of equality, are proponents of postmodernism. Besides their rejection of traditional values is their wide-spread rebellion against established authority. They wish to put an end to democracy as we now know it and are avowed Marxists; an ideology that inevitably leads to communism.
Any attempt to rewrite reality can only skew sound knowledge and leave our understanding about life blurred. If your beliefs are not in line with how God thinks about our world and our lives and what He has done to make us ready spiritually for His heaven, then it is time to find out what the Scriptures teach. In the Bible you will find answers to many issues in life, none greater than that of man’s indispensable need for salvation. Christ said, “I am Way, the Truth and the Life,” while earnest in His appeal to lost sinners, yet the authorities condemned Him for speaking out about men’s dire need to look to Him in order to be pardoned of their sins. Even under duress and threats He did not capitulate but gave the gospel even if it ultimately meant facing a gruesome death.
While all of us have sinned and continue to do so, this results in a broken relationship and must be mended if our communion with God is to be restored again. Christ then is the answer to our spiritual dilemma. We hope you will give this further consideration. Listen to messages on our website for further encouragement and to hear about our need for forgiveness and to trust Christ unreservedly, that you may enter heaven the only acceptable way, a forgiven sinner.
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13

God Hates Sin

This article will address a question that came to my attention recently about nightmares. Much has been written about their causes and stress they cause on people of all ages. We can all recall certain “night terrors” that have left us shaky and troubled just after we awoke from our restless state. We are not speaking about garden variety nightmares but those that have a crippling effect on us. We have just passed Remembrance Day where we recall the many brave and valiant soldiers who faced death and suffering for their generation and generations to come. Can we even imagine what it must have been like the night or day before a battle trying to get some shut eye, knowing that they will have to face enemy fire and possibly dismemberment or death, maybe even that of their friends? To this day, many who look back at their horrid battlefield experiences, where across enemy lines they faced the terrors and fierceness associated with battle, really may never leave them; for memories of it lie restless in wait to pounce, if, as we say they have been so fortunate to survive the war, leaving them in cold sweats and distress, by war’s end and their return to safety, had left them as much as a casualty as their fallen comrades. But what would you say if you were told that God has nightmares? Would you think that this is even possible since God does not sleep? The question below refers to the use of a metaphor that describes God as waking up from a nightmare. We will respond to this but first the question.
“I was just wondering if you might be able to translate something for me. I received a random Bible passage today and I am not sure what it means. The passage is Psalm 73:20 and I was wondering if you might be able to explain to me what is meant by this passage. I just found it interesting and it seems like a riddle.”
Whenever studying the Bible, in this case Psalm 73:20, as much as possible seek a particular translation that will give the plain translation of the verse.
King James Version
As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image. Ps. 73:20
Direct wording from the Hebrew texts says it this way: As a dream when one awakes, Lord [so} when you awake their image you shall despise.
You can grasp a better idea to read a word for word translation from the Hebrew. The author describes the experience of waking up from a nightmarish sleep using a metaphor to describe God, as though a man, someone who awakes from a nightmare; another way is to say — Like a man that awakes from a bad dream, from which He sees the depraved state of man, which He hates.
A similar portion is found in Psalm7:6, where the plea of the Psalmist is for God to act against the unrighteous. Arise (like a man rising from his sleep), O LORD, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me; you have appointed a judgment. Ps. 7:6(ESV)
While the text from Ps.73:20 does not say what God does with unrepentant men, though you may have a good idea already, the psalmist’s plea from Ps. 7:6 indicates that he knows. He knows that God will act decisively at Judgment. Sometimes judgment is temporal, here on earth in our lifetime; but for certain, in the last days, a final and comprehensive judgment is still to come for all mankind. So when you combine teaching from both Psalms where God is compared figuratively to man in the sense that He arises or awakes, but is unlike man who wishes to forget his nightmarish dream; God is not dismissive in dealing with the sinfulness of man. It is not a dream for him to put out of His thoughts, (metaphors are not meant to be exhaustive in their use) but He will judge man and all rebels and their rebellion will be removed from His presence forever. The sad irony to all of this, is this: what is nightmarish now for God, to see the continuous state of evildoing, will become a dreaded awakening for man in the end of time; worse than anything he could ever imagine in this life. This grim ending can be avoided if man responds to the warning from Scripture about sin and its consequences and man seeks Christ for forgiveness and repents of his sins; for God is gracious and merciful and will forgive you and will keep His promise to give eternal life to all those who ask. God continues even today to offer an escape from certain damnation, for He does not cease to warn man about the eventual outcome for men in this life.
how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, Hebrews 2:3a(ESV)
In the book of Hebrews are at least five extensive portions in which warnings are given regarding unbelief and departing from the Living God (see 2:1-4; 3:7-12; 5:11 –14; 10:26 – 29; 12:25 – 27). Yet, God remains gracious for He continues to invite the sinner to Himself.
From Psalm 86:5
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.

Reformation Sunday

To many reading this article, the following Latin phrase may mean little to you, Coram Deo, interpreted, “before the face of God”. This was a phrase often spoken by Reformers of the 16th century which emphasized that all of life was to be lived as though you were before God every moment of the day. Since Sunday is Reformation Day, we will spend some time on this idea of living out our lives in similar fashion, as before God, and why this can even be possible. The reason why we can live for God in a consecrated fashion begins with forgiveness.
Martin Luther discovered the truth of forgiveness when he understood that it is granted by God freely by faith. It was in his later years at the monastery, that the Biblical passage from Romans 1:17, the “righteous shall live by faith” had resonated in his heart and mind, the newly discovered doctrine, only new in the sense that Luther never understood it before. It was only afterwards that Luther became a Christian. From there, his studies into Sacred Scripture led him to the position that salvation is a gift of God and none can earn it. Of course, the religious order in which he was part of opposed him. Luther learned that salvation was granted by God through Christ’s sacrifice and received by faith that hearts are truly changed. Before his salvation, he only knew about God but never truly realized what saving faith was all about, and that living for God without saving faith was impossible.
Luther was earnest and determined in his newfound faith. He would live life as though he was before God each moment of the day. Living before the face of God was not something that originated with Luther either since many had done so before Luther. Calvin, Knox and others knew about going through life with the awareness of being in God’s presence. In a sense, He was!
Even before the period of the Reformation, this idea of living your life day in and day out as though you were in God’s very presence, originated in Bible times. Many figures are named, but a couple of them that come to mind are the prophets Elijah and Isaiah. Elijah said, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before who I stand.” This was spoken by him despite having to face hostile forces seeking his demise; still, Elijah remained fixed on his LORD. Another instance was that of Isaiah who was overwhelmed when God came before him. Isaiah could only repeat how amazingly holy God is; three times he called Him holy in succession!
Many more similar instances are given in Scripture, but the challenge for us today is to live as though God is ever before us, like some of the courageous and conviction-filled figures we have seen from the past. But to do so, you must first ask yourself if you truly know the forgiveness of God? If not, then consider your state of sinfulness, and the plight of Luther and the condition he was in before realizing his own need to experience salvation by faith and the forgiveness of God. You must also follow the same path. It is entirely by the grace of God that this is even possible.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17