Weekly Newsletter – December 14, 2020
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
Have You Seen Him?
Over the centuries, many great artists have tried to imagine and depict what Jesus looked like during His life on earth. Master painters like Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Durer, and Michelangelo devoted their lives and focused their genius upon portraying the Master. Churches and museums in many countries display wonderful works by innumerable artists.
Many have painted the baby Jesus with His mother or on a manger bed, surrounded by his parents, the stable animals, and those who came to celebrate His birth by worshipping Him. Others have depicted Him in the Temple at age 12, puzzling the learned scholars with His knowledge about God and His spiritual wisdom.
Perhaps you have a favorite work of art, illustrating some dramatic scene from the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry-loving the children, feeding the multitudes, healing the sick, teaching His disciples. So many have tried to capture a glimpse of Jesus. Some of these portraits are masterpieces…some much more modest.
I’ve been moved and blessed by these pictures-especially those showing Christ travailing in the Garden of Gethsemane, enduring the tortures of His trial, and weeping for the world from the cross of Calvary. And how I’ve rejoiced while looking at paintings of the resurrected Savior and His Transfiguration.
Thank God for all the artists and their pictures of the Lord. I appreciate them. But even when I’ve gazed in awe at Michelangelo’s monumental paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican or marveled at da Vinci’s famous masterpiece, “The Last Supper,” something inside me wanted more. How I longed to see Jesus for myself.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to go back in time and visualize the scene of Jesus’ birth. Only Joseph and Mary were there when He came-the rest of the world was asleep. As Mary held him and looked into His face for the first time, I wonder if she realized that she was touching the infant God? There must have been something special about the way He looked, but I can’t even imagine it-it boggles my mind!
Have you seen what I’ve seen?
Then the shepherds came-running, out of breath, beside themselves with joy and excitement-to find the baby the angels had told them about…to actually see the Savior who is Christ the Lord! When they saw Him, they bowed in His presence and worshipped the newborn King. When they had seen Him, we’re told, the shepherds hurried out to tell everybody the glorious news. I can see them rushing up to everybody they met to blurt out, “Have you seen Him? Angels told us about the new baby in the stable. His name is Jesus…and He is Christ the Lord!”
Jesus came to be seen
From then on, it seems, everybody wanted to see Him. An ancient Temple priest named Simeon refused to die until he had seen the Christ. When Mary and Joseph placed their child into his arms to be consecrated according to Jewish law, the old man looked into the face of Jesus, then cried out, “Lord, now dismiss your servant in peace, for mine eyes have seen Your salvation!” (see Luke 2:25-32).
Later, wise men from the East came, bringing royal gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Following a bright star in the heavens, they had made a very long journey to see the One born to be earth’s new King.
The Gospels are full of examples of people coming to see Jesus. Jesus came to be seen-to reveal himself to the world and to show mankind the image of God the Father. He that hath seen me, He declared, hath seen the Father (John 14:9).
The people of that day saw Jesus. They saw Him being moved with compassion for the needs of the multitude. They saw Him touching lives and meeting needs. They saw Him teaching great throngs of people, performing miracles of healing, feeding thousands. Some saw Him walking on the water, speaking peace to the wind and the waves. They saw Him sacrificing himself on the cross of Calvary to save all mankind. They saw Him rise up from the grave with resurrection power.
Again and again, they asked one another, “Have you seen Him?”
What about us?
I rejoice with Mary and the shepherds who saw with their own eyes Christ Jesus the Lord! But are we who live today excluded from the awe that Mary felt when she looked into the face of her newborn child and realized that He was the God-man? Must we miss out on the joy of the shepherds who were directed by angels to a stable in Bethlehem to welcome-and worship-the Son of God?
We can see Jesus as clearly as they saw Him. I can. You can. In my personal experience, when I cried out in passionate desperation to see Jesus, He came and opened my eyes so I could see Him! And in that glorious revelation, I found Him to be so much more than I had imagined or even hoped that He would be.
I saw Him as my Savior, my Sin-bearer, my Joy, and my Strength. I saw Him as my Light and my Love, the Breath of my life and the indwelling Presence in whom I live and move and have my being!
Since that day, I’ve been like the shepherds scurrying through the streets of Bethlehem, witnessing to everyone they met. Now I ask people everywhere I go, “Have you seen Him? Have you really seen Jesus? Please let me show you where to find Him.”
Not only can we see Him, but we can hear Him too. Unlike the folks on the far edge of the crowd who had to strain to hear the physical voice of Jesus, we can hear from the Lord any time, all the time. This is really important because we live in an information age where there is a constant clamor of voices trying to get our attention. It’s easy to get confused in the tumult.
But we can always tune in to the voice of Jesus through prayer. It has been said that He speaks in a “still, small voice.” I don’t know how to describe it, but His voice is unmistakable, and I know it when I hear it!
The Lord also speaks to us through His Word, the Holy Bible. Whenever I need comfort, assurance, direction, or help, I turn to the Scriptures. Time and time again, as I read and listen with my heart, His Word speaks to me with just the help and the answers I need. I can’t explain it-I only know it works.
So we can see Jesus today, and we can hear His voice. We can also know that He hears us when we come into His presence. What a joy to be able to talk to Jesus as one friend talks to another. We can speak to Him at any moment.
I don’t have to be in church. I don’t have to be on my knees, or in any other position. I don’t have to use any special phrases or “holy” words. I don’t have to have an appointment. He is always with me, always interested, always understanding, and always ready to help.
The Gospels tell us that wherever Jesus went during His earthly ministry, great crowds gathered around Him. When people in need heard that He was passing by, they went running to find Him. People brought the sick to Him. Lepers came to seek deliverance. The blind and the lame sought His healing touch.
When He began teaching down by the sea, people ran to get near Him. When He sat down on the mountainside, a crowd of more than 5,000 ran after Him to hear His words. They ran to see Him, to hear His voice, to feel His touch.
Seek Him now
If you and I had lived back then, no doubt we would have been running too. We would have joined all the other people who wanted to get close to Jesus.
But if we would have run to Him back then, why aren’t we doing it now? Why aren’t we seeking Him, looking to Him, listening to Him, talking to Him? Why do we forget to read the Bible, skip our devotional prayer time, and perhaps forsake the assembling of ourselves with other believers in worship too often?
In the words of the old spiritual, “If we ever needed the Lord before, we sure do need Him now…we need Him every day and every hour.” Perhaps you feel that you are not as close to Jesus as you once were. Then I would implore you to draw near to Him.
Run to Him! Run to His voice! Run to His touch!
The beloved Apostle John wrote, That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3).
During this holiday season, no doubt you’ll be seeing Christmas decorations and greeting cards that will remind you of the birth of Jesus in a Bethlehem stable. Each time you see a manger scene, let it be a reminder to ask yourself, “Have I seen Him today? Have I heard His voice?”
Then find someone you can speak to and ask-
“Have you seen Him?”
A CLASSIC MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE
The Birth of the Eternal God
I feel that there is a tremendous need to enlighten mankind as to the true identity of Christ. Multitudes think of the Saviour as just another member of the human race born nearly 2,000 years ago. Nothing could be further from the truth. In this chapter, I clearly want to trace the preexistence of Christ to prove that He was “the Eternal God” who became man, in order that He might die for poor, helpless, hopeless sinners. I also want to show that His birth had to be through the channels of a virgin, inseminated by the power of the Holy Spirit, if His sacrifice for sinners was to be effective.
The altogether lovely One, born in Bethlehem’s manger, existed from all eternity. The verse that prophesies His exact birthplace also tells of His preexistence. Micah 5:2: But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Isaiah masterfully handles this truth in chapter 9, verse 6, For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Let’s analyze this verse for a moment. Notice that a child is born (this speaks of the Lord’s birth), but the next phrase mentions a son being given. This speaks about God sending the Son who was in His presence and coincides with Galatians 4:4, When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son. Then Isaiah goes on to proclaim this Son as God by the titles “The mighty God” and “The everlasting Father.” These terms are possible because of the relationship of the Trinity. Remember that Jesus said in John 10:30, I and my Father are one.
John opens his gospel with the statement, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made (John 1:1-3). In verse 14, he identifies this member of the Trinity who is called the “Word.” And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. Think of it. This One who was in the beginning with God and was God became flesh and lived among insignificant human beings because of His love for sinners.
Yes, Christ always existed and came from heaven to earth. Listen to His numerous statements verifying this truth: For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world (John 6:33). I am the living bread which came down from heaven (John 6:51). Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world (John 8:23). I proceeded forth and came from God (John 8:42). I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world (John 16:28).
In His high priestly prayer, Jesus said, I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was (John 17:4,5). Jesus said in John 5:46, Moses…wrote of me. Here Christ delves back hundreds of years to the first five books of the Bible, called “The Pentateuch,” and states that Moses mentioned Him. This is important because Moses recorded these words centuries before the birth of Christ. Jesus also said in John 8:56, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. How could Abraham see His day centuries before His birth if there were no preexistent One?
Oh, friend, Jesus always existed as a coequal member of the Trinity. Don’t listen to a group of blinded cultists who would rob Christ of His deity, but hear the Word of the Lord. His preexistence is also proven through the Bible statements indicating that He created the world. John 1:3: All things were made by him. John 1:10: He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. Colossians 1:16: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him. Hebrews 1:2 states, By whom also he [Christ] made the worlds.
The part Christ had in creating the world and mankind agrees with the Old Testament account of creation. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1). The Hebrew for God is Elohim, a plural noun, meaning “more than one.” This is a glorious declaration of the Trinity. You don’t believe it? What will you do with Genesis 1:26? And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
We have but skimmed the surface of evidence that proves that Christ preexisted His earthly birth. Now let’s move on to the glorious truth of His coming to earth via the channel of a virgin’s womb. At this point let’s consider Philippians 2:5-8 because it is such a glorious transitional passage. It brings the eternal God from heaven to a bodily appearance upon earth so that He might die for sinners. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God [His spirit form in eternity], thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men [His birth]. Why? Verse 8: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Christ’s virgin birth
Lost religionists mock the virgin birth. In an issue of the magazine Challenge, a number of sickening articles and poems appeared. I quote one of them to show the world how far liberal modernistic religionists will go in their attempt to rob Christ of His deity. It is a poem about Mary, the mother of Jesus. In the poem she says:
First, I’ve got nothing to say-about anything that happened before Joseph and I got married. Jesus was our child. Joseph’s and mine. You can believe it or not. Suit yourself. He was my first born so naturally I thought he was something special. So, he’s the Messiah they say. I’d rather he had stayed a carpenter, married a nice Jewish girl and given me a lot of fat little grandchildren.
What blasphemy! This is the prophecy of the Apostle Peter fulfilled before our eyes. But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privity shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of (2 Peter 2:1,2).
Yes, the way of truth is often evil spoken of because of ordained wolves in sheep’s clothing who call themselves members of the “Christian faith” and yet would tear Christ to shreds if the opportunity presented itself. The crucifixion would be mild in comparison to what some of our lost seminary professors would do to Jesus if they had the chance in this twentieth century. However, let’s not waste our time on man’s drivel but instead invest it wisely as we listen to the Word of God concerning the truth about the virgin birth.
A virgin birth was necessary because Adam sinned. Since Adam was the head of the human race, every person born into it through natural generation or through the process of birth inherits the old sinful Adamic nature. Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Romans 5:12). Yes, all sinned or became guilty of sin simply by inheriting the fallen nature of Adam at birth. Quirks and diseases are passed on from generation to generation. Sugar diabetes is a prime example. Likewise, the sin nature is passed on to every generation. Romans 5:18 is another verse that clearly teaches the necessity of a virgin birth. Therefore as by the offence of one [Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [Christ] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
Notice that judgment came upon all men unto condemnation because of Adam’s sin, but through the righteousness of Christ one may be liberated from this judgment. It is only logical to conclude that if Christ had come through the normal channels of reproduction, He would have also been born with this judgment of condemnation upon Him because He also would have inherited Adam’s sinful nature. Therefore, in order that He might set men free from this condemnation, He had to be born in another manner so as not to be tainted with the old wicked nature of Adam.
There was only one way this possibility existed and that was through a virgin birth-bypassing man through insemination of the virgin’s ova by the Holy Spirit. This ova lies dormant in every woman until it is activated by a male sperm. Gasoline is also dormant until activated by a spark. Is it an impossibility for the God, who formed man out of the dust of the ground and took a rib out of man to form woman, to place the activating seed within this holy virgin and bring forth His Son through the miracle-working power of His Holy Spirit? Of course not. This is exactly what the Father did. Hear the Word of God.
The very first messianic prophecy is found in Genesis 3:15. There we hear the Lord God uttering a prophecy against the serpent, saying, And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it [the woman’s seed] shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. The statement, “her seed,” is the first reference to the virgin birth in God’s Word. All humans are from the seed of man, but the seed of a woman implies a stupendous miracle. Jeremiah 31:22 again speaks of a miraculous event that would occur upon this earth. For the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.
A woman conceiving and bearing a man-child would not be a new thing in the earth-this is the rule of life. After conception, one bears a male or female child. Therefore this entirely new thing that would transpire had to be a miracle. What was it? A woman, without any human intervention or penetration, would conceive, carry, and deliver a man-child. This happened tobe the Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour of the world. Isaiah 7:14 again sheds light on this event of the ages. Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah is not merely referring to a young woman giving birth to a son. That would not be a sign. Millions of young women have been able to bear sons. The sign is that a virgin shall bear a son without an act of intercourse.
Forget the arguments of the religious contortionists who argue that the Hebrew word almah is “young woman” instead of “virgin.” All one need do is study Matthew 1:23 where the Greek word parthenos can only be translated “virgin” to arrive at a final answer. Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Verse 22 states that this is a quotation from the prophet. What prophet? Isaiah. And where did Isaiah make the statement? Chapter 7, verse 14. So, the Greek text handles the Old Testament Hebrew text proving that God meant a “virgin” and not a “young woman.”
I repeat what was stated earlier: A young woman bearing a child would be no sign. Any of you young expectant mothers reading this would be the first to realize this truth. However, had you become impregnated miraculously by the power of God without knowing a man, it would very obviously be a sign. That happened to Mary and only to Mary.
The reason that God the Son, originally in spirit form (see Philippians 2:5), had to have an earthly birth is found in Hebrews 10:4,5. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not [animal blood could not take away sin], but a body hast thou prepared me. Since animal blood only covered sin and was presented as a down payment for sin’s debt until God’s Lamb should come, Christ had a body with divine blood prepared in the womb of a virgin so that He could shed that blood and die for the sins of the world. Because it had to be pure blood, free from the taint of Adam’s sin, the body and blood were prepared by the Father and placed in the womb of the virgin Mary.
Luke 1:26-28,30,31,34 depicts this thrilling story: And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS…. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
This is a precious truth. Though she was espoused or engaged to Joseph, she had not known a man or experienced premarital sex. Remember that God wrote the Bible, and He declares that Mary was a pure virgin. Away with the mentally warped, religious hypocrites who are so defiled that they imagine all sorts of depraved things about this sweet virgin. Not everyone thinks and acts as they do. Mary declares, “I have never known a man-how shall this baby be conceived?” The blessed answer is found in verse 35: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. Anyone who believes that God created this gigantic, fantastic, and astronomical universe certainly believes that God can bring His only begotten Son into the world by a separate act of creation. With God nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37).
There is the entire story. The preexistent God, second member of the Trinity, came to take upon himself a body with blood so as to shed His blood for sinners. The sin-tainted blood inherited from Adam would not qualify Him as the sinless Saviour, so a body was prepared with blood produced by the Father, and placed into the womb of a virgin by the blessed Holy Spirit. Christ eventually went to the cross and shed His blood. Because He was the God-man shedding untainted holy blood, mankind may have eternal life by receiving this sacrifice. Believe the Word of God-see Christ crucified and risen again. Receive this Christ today.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Dear Rexella, Your latest weekly email was very helpful to me! Just wanted to let you know that you helped me today. You are a treasure! Thank you and Merry Christmas!
Your friend and sister in Christ,
I just want you to know I was saved in 1989, and right away found you and Jack on TBN. I could not put my bible down, and hungered to learn more and more. Your ministry had a huge part in that. I want to thank you.
can imagine how much you miss your wonderful husband, as alot of this world misses him as well. I am praying for you so you can feel Jesus near every day.
We will all be together very very soon,
God Bless you, and thank you again,
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Dr. Jack Van Impe’s wonderful year-long devotional, Soul Food: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread is the perfect daily reading to keep you growing in God, looking forward to His return, and finding peace, comfort and hope for each new day, every day of the year. There’s a daily memory verse to help you keep learning new Scriptures throughout the year, plus powerful insight from the man called “The Walking Bible.” This is great devotional material for you, and it makes a wonderful gift for a loved one.