Service Video Message Video Message Audio %} Lakeside Christian Church · The Promise of God in Christ | In Christ episode 02 Scripture Verses Ephesians 1:15-19; 1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Deuteronomy 4:29 Worship Playlist God of the Promise by Elevation WorshipWait on You by Elevation WorshipIs He Worthy? by Andrew PetersonThe King Is Coming by Christy NocklesO Come Emmanuel by Paul Baloche Downloads & Resources The Promise of God in Christ Dr. Jon Morrissette - 12/4/2022 John Stott once said that God “evangelizes” man, through the Bible. People often assume the Bible begins with Abraham, his Twelve Sons, the “elect” tribes of Israel. In the Bible, election is all about service. Israel was elected to be a beacon of light, pointing all the other nations of earth to God. In many ways the story of Jonah in the Bible is a metaphor of Israel. When God sent Jonah to Ninevah, leading city of Babylon, he ran in the opposite direction! And when under Divine compulsion Jonah eventually does go to preach, the city repents and he’s filled with great anger and resentment. How dare God save such a wicked people! The modern church (though elect in Christ) is just as reluctant as was Jonah, as was Israel…to go evangelize. The Bible doesn’t begin with Abraham, the Father of Israel. It begins with Adam, the Father of All Nations. God didn’t just have a dream for a single nation, he had a dream for every tongue, tribe, and nation on earth. For Israel, eventually, yes. But also, for the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, for every people past-present-future. The West. The East. The Northern-Southern hemispheres. Deuteronomy 4:29 is a promise not just for one nation, but all nations. “You will search for the Lord your God, and you will find him when you seek him with all your heart and all your soul.” Our special assignment this Christmas is to shine like stars. To hold out the truth of Christ to all who might seek Him. It was wise men from the east that first see the star of David.Perhaps it’s you, who is seeking God this Christmas? I want you to consider how God might be speaking to you—evangelizing you—through His Word. Last Sunday, I invited you to consider that God is the only plausible explanation for the irreducible complexity, undeniable design, and mind-boggling improbability of our existence. I secondly invited you to consider that not only were you created “by” God but “for” God. When you survey not just the earth, but the universe, the most tangible things you encounter resembling any sort of a god is. . . yourself. You have been endowed with rationality, memory, language, sensory neurons (taste, touch, sight, hearing), consciousness, moral agency. You also have a soul and spirit that effortlessly transcend mere time, space, and matter to contemplate the Divine. The Bible says you were created in God’s image not to “BE” a god but to “LOVE” God, serve God, worship God, glorify God, fully relate to God. In this way, God isn’t “a” purpose for your life but “the” capital P – PURPOSE of your Life! Thirdly, I invited you to consider that you matter so greatly to this God, that God (who transcends time, space, matter) willingly entered time, and history, and human form both to seek and to save us, and unmistakably (irrefutably) to be found by us. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” “No one has ever seen God. The one and only Son, who is himself God and is at the Father’s side—he has revealed him.” This morning I want to invite you consider yet another truth. What if I told you Christmas wasn’t some new story, nor some later development, in the salvation-history of God? What if I told you that Christmas was the oldest, the most ancient, and first and only story of Scripture? What if I told you the first human being to ever hear about Christmas were the first human beings (Adam and Eve)? What if the Christmas story doesn’t begin in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (i.e. Gospels of the New Testamnt, written a couple thousand years ago). but way back in Genesis (the oldest known history of life on earth? What if I told you that the Christmas (the Advent, “appearance” of Christ) was the driving narrative, driving obsession, driving hope, the 24…7…365 preoccupation not just of the Father of one nation (Abraham), but of all nations (in Adam)? A lot of people track their genealogy because they don’t want to miss someone who was part of their past. But in the Bible genealogies were tracked because people didn’t want to miss someone in the future. They knew from the very beginning that God promised to send forth a “Christ”—a child—through whom Satan would be crushed and all nations would be redeemed. The ancients yearned for the advent of Christ—from Adam and Eve forward. When would God come, to visit us in human form, as God and Savior, as Messiah, Priest, and King? Would God keep his promise? Jesus, in the gospels, claims that Abraham "saw' him.God evangelizes us through Scripture. Why was a Christ child, Christ-solution even needed? The Bible graphically chronicles the fateful moment Adam—and subsequently, every descendent of Adam, died. If you don’t understand how spiritually dead you are in Adam, you’ll never understand nor appreciate how spiritually alive you can become in Christ. When Adam sinned, he didn’t just turn away from God. He turned away from LIFE itself. Now whether you are an Atheist, Agnostic, or some other religion. . . you will be more fully attuned to the human dilemma than you may realize. The human dilemma is four-fold: First, do you agree we live in an abnormal world? In many ways this earth is too good to be true. There is no plausible explanation just how this flourishing blue marble of life came to be amid the deathly darkness of the seeming infinity of surrounding galaxies. Yet there is something amiss in the natural order. There are thorns, hardships, and cruel diseases. Disasters wreak havoc. Nations rage. Is the world abnormal because it was accidentally “burped” into its flawed existence? Is the world abnormal because no great or good God exists to sustain, nurture, and guide it? We worship technology because we hope technology will help us escape the pain of this abnormal world. It becomes for us some kind of pseudo salvation. You may not have a good explanation for it, but you certainly observe, and would agree this world is good but abnormal. Second, do you agree we live in a cruel world? We look at our fellow man, and marvel at what extraordinary capacity exists for human race to build itself up in love! Think about it. We could tolerate most any calamity this abnormal world might throw at us, if we could all bear it together, loving each other. But the calamity caused by the abnormality of the world is compounded by human cruelty! Call it sin, injustice, or bad karma. Hashtag it however you want—but instead of living into love we cruelly live for self, not other. We aren’t good news to each other, we’re like bad news. The greatest threat to human life is another human being who might kill, steal, lie, exploit, rape, plunder, tread upon, starve, destroy. You may not have a good explanation for it, but you’d agree we live in a humanly cruel world, and this is a titanic problem. We need peace.Third, do you agree we live with shattered personal lives? There also seems to be something deeply broken within. We can’t master our own heart, mind, body, and soul much less others. We are stricken deep within by shame, guilt, anxiety, pain. vices, depression, and defeat. Our own hearts contemplate evil. Our minds entertain lies and perversions. Our strength or health peaks, only to quickly fade, until it fails us. Our spirit yearns for peace and joy, but never finds rest. There is a crisis within man himself. Lastly, do you agree we live in a dark and hopeless world. We are prisoners of time, space, and matter. We are a mist that appears briefly only to disappear. We are, as the Bible says, without hope, without God, in this darkened universe. We look deep into the stars. We look deep into deepest matter. We lay hold of hope after hope only to be disappointed. We invent meaning and purpose for ourselves. We imagine our own significance. But from dust we come and to dust we return. Can we ever, like God, break out of time’s hourglass? Can the soul ascend to heaven, to know God, to see God, to dwell with God, to love and serve Him? Let me explain the human dilemma this way: This world is dead, slowly passing away, dying a heat death. Love is dead with human cruelty compounding calamity after calamity. Man himself is dead, dying within, unable to cure his own soul. And it would seem perhaps God Himself is dead, non-existent, non-sense? Or perhaps if God exists, he’s just unknowable, unsearchable, unapproachable? Or perhaps God is not great, nor good? If you don’t understand how spiritually dead you are in Adam, you’ll never understand nor appreciate how spiritually alive you can become in Christ. Every chapter of the Bible, from cover-to-cover presents (in the starkest, and most candid of prose) the utter hopeless of man adrift. So let me ask… Is our world abnormal? Are we ravaged by human cruelty? Are we spiritually dead men within dying a slow death . . . because God is in fact dead? Because God is somehow deficient? Or incompetent? Or lesser? Because God is not so great and not so good? Has this world because what is has because of who God is… OR because of who man is? God evangelizes us through the Bible. God declares that all the heavens and earth, humanity at large, love itself, man within himself, man’s relationship with God Himself… has been torn asunder because of our moral rebellion. You are not the good person. You have done great evil with titanic, seismic, indeed cosmic repercussions. What if at the core of the human dilemma isn’t some imagined deficiency in God but in our moral selves? What if our moral rebellion doesn’t just have spiritual implications but personal, and societal, even cosmic repercussions? Instead of living for God we became our own gods! If God is great… how might a moral, righteous, and perfect God allow an immoral, unrighteous, evil people to stand? If God is good… how can a loving, merciful, gracious God reconcile us to himself not counting our sins against us? What if before the beginning, before the foundations of the world, the great and awesome God planned to send forth “Christ” to “be our solution?” What if, in Christ, God planned not only to be just (true unto His holy self), yet to also be the Justifier (Redeemer) of sinful man? Countless generations have sought salvation. They’ve looked high and low, left and right, for any kind of solution. They looked to the stars, and astrology. They looked within their own dead selves. They looked to one another. They romanticized how true love might conquer cruelty. They speculated about true knowledge, wisdom, and philosophy. They created idols, invented gods, invented religion, worshipped technology… But all along… God promised a solution not from within, but from without. God promised to send forth His Christ. God’s first promise was to Adam and Eve—that through their offspring Satan would be crushed. Generation after generation passes. Then there was Cain, then no more Abel, then Seth. Then Noah. Then Noah’s sons. The human dilemma has been compounding generation after generation…the yearning for salvation intensifying. God promised to Abraham, that His Christ would indeed come. Abraham and Sarah, though as good as dead, were filled with faith and hope! Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jacob’s sons, Joseph… the descendants of Abraham’s twelve sons, the twelve tribes of Israel, Moses. The Old Testament carefully tracks how generation after generation waited for God’s Christ (solution) to appear. The Judges come and go. Great Kings come and go. Great prophets come and go. Mighty nations rise and fall (Assyria, Babylon, Persians, Greeks, Romans). But then in the fullness of time the promised Christ appears! In Christ, God demonstrates his perfect justice while justifying the wicked. God takes upon himself the just penalty (of death) due for our sin. Jesus suffers and dies for the sin of the world. But then, in that very same act, God woos back our wayward souls. In Christ, we realize our true purpose—we exist for God! We realize our true value—God spared no cost not even to himself to redeem us. In Christ, we realize our true significance, we matter more than matter itself. In Christ, we rise from death to become alive to God, in Christ Jesus! And it gets better. God sends his Holy Spirit to take up residence in our heart, mind, body, and soul. Outwardly were wasting away, but inwardly, were being renewed day by day to be like God, with ever increasing glory! And in Christ, God has already begun knitting us together into a kind of new humanity, a Kingdom of love. He is making us into his bride, his very own body, a people for his own possession, glory, praise…a holy nation, people, and church. The Church is a beacon of light, the hope of humankind— through a Christ inspired, love-inspired Church, God has begun filling the earth with his loving presence! And the scope of God’s redemption in Christ culminates with the very redemption of creation itself. When God has his way, even the heaven and earth will be made new again! It’s always been about Christmas—the advent of Christ. Hope was never about anyone or anything else.