Weekly Newsletter – December 5, 2016
A 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 to be 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.
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
Where Would I Be?
We are in my favorite time of the year. As we celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas my mind goes back to all those wonderful times I had together with my family. We had a wonderful tradition in our home for Christmas. We would never open our gifts until my Father read the entire Christmas story. He always emphasized that the birth of the Savior is what Christmas is truly about, not the opening of gifts, not even enjoying Mother’s wonderful dinner, but the awe inspiring fact that God became Flesh to dwell among us. What a blessing it was to be reared in a home that taught the truths of God’s love and the joy of celebrating the birth of Christ as a family.
We recognize the contrast this is to what the world celebrates today. The emphasis in our society is shopping, decorating, and rushing around so much to the point that we hardly have time to enjoy Christmas. It seems like the stores put up their Christmas sale displays earlier and earlier each year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of them come up with a “Back to School Christmas Sale” in the month of August. Christmas has become a time when people often go out on a limb financially, and even get into debt in order to provide gifts for friends and loved ones. There is nothing wrong with wanting to give someone a gift. There is a special joy and blessing in sharing as long as we put the right value on it. A gift under the tree should always remind us of the gift from Heaven – the tree also should remind us ultimately of why Jesus came to be our Savior. And of course this reminds us of Calvary’s tree.
Every gift that we buy; every gift that we open, and every gift that we look at under the tree should remind us of the greatest gift of all – a gift that was laid in the manger and wrapped in the simplest way – in swaddling clothes; which brings us to the Christmas story.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7).
As I read of our Lord’s birth in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, I cannot help but wonder two things. Where would I have been and what would I have done if I had been on the earth at that time. Would I have reacted the same way to this ancient scenario as some people reacted? First of all where would I have been and how would I have responded if I had been the innkeeper?
We all know that as a result of the decree of Caesar Augustus every person was required to go to the town of his or her birth to register and pay taxes. This is why the innkeeper had a problem. Yes, the inn was filled to capacity and therefore no room was available for Joseph and Mary. I’m sure that if he had an extra room he would have said “Oh yes, you are going to have a baby, you are going to soon bring forth a child and so I need to give you the best room in my inn”. But because of the overflow of people there was no room in the inn. If I had been the innkeeper would I have been sitting behind the desk saying “I don’t have room for you, but I’ll put you in the stable”? Or would I have come out from behind that desk with compassion and understanding and found a warm and comfortable place for Mary to have her precious baby?
Every time I read this passage I think of the story of the young boy who was born with Down Syndrome who had a part in his church’s Christmas pageant. This young boy loved the Lord and was so proud to be playing the part of the innkeeper. He went around the house practicing his lines: “There’s no room at the inn – you will have to stay in the stable.” The night of the pageant came and there he was, dressed in costume and standing before the audience. The two children came in who were playing the parts of Joseph and Mary; said their lines and waited for the response from the innkeeper. He looked nervous, but then took a deep breath and said his line just as he had practiced it – “There’s no room at the inn – you’ll have to stay in the stable.” As Mary and Joseph started to exit the stage to move on to the next scene, a pained look came across his face and suddenly he cried out: “No, wait, wait, you can have MY room!”
Oh, to have such a loving heart as that precious child exhibited. What a joy that would have been for me if I had been able to say as the innkeeper, please come and stay in my room; enjoy my humble dwelling and let me help you through this special time as you are ready to give birth. Would I have just remained behind that desk and said to my co-workers ‘Take them into the stable and they can have the straw out there on which to lay the baby’. It brings tears to my eyes to think that this is where God knew and divinely planned for His Son to be born.
The Gospel is story in inclusive of every class of people; the lowly as well as the middle and upper class of society. I would probably say that the innkeeper would be considered, in that era of time, as the middle class of his society. Had I been in the Middle class of that day would I have been humble enough to say “I will go into the stable, you stay in my room” where would I have been if God had given me this choice to make. What a great opportunity to show my love and compassion for the parents and for the Savior of the world.
Let’s take a look at another class of people – the lowly shepherds.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. (Luke 2:8-10)
Being a shepherd during the time of Christ was not a 9 – 5 job. The shepherds would spend every hour of every day with their sheep, leading them, protecting them from predators and thieves, and tending their wounds. If I had been a chosen shepherd that heard the voice of an angel would I have received the message? Or would I have said “Oh no, oh my goodness, this is just a dream, I can’t accept this. This is too much to absorb, who am I? I’m just a poor little shepherd out here I can’t be expected to actually have seen an angel and have the glory of the Lord around me and hear the angel announce “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” I find it hard to imagine what they thought. But where would I have been? Would I have said “I’m going to leave the sheep and I’m going to follow the greatest announcement that has ever been given to the world and that is that Christ the Lord has been born.
Traditionally, the sheep that were raised in the fields near Bethlehem were used for the Temple sacrifices to cover the sins of the people. How beautiful and how perfect is it that God called these shepherds, who were very familiar with the requirements for a sacrificial lamb, to be the first ones to see, outside of Mary and Joseph, the “…Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world“
I pray that I would have done exactly what these lowly shepherds did. That I would have not only listened to the announcement but I would have heard and reacted positively “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, good will toward men.”
I can almost hear God saying: Well, you may have trouble believing in the message from one angel, so I’ll show you the Heavenly Host. If there had been any shadow of a doubt in their minds, there could be no question that this was something tremendously out of the ordinary.
Think of it, the shepherds could have been frightened beyond all description, but the minute they heard the host praising God and saying Glory to God, the shepherds said “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem…” I can’t imagine the tremendous shaking in their hearts as they thought “here is God’s Son being born. Let’s go now to see heavens greatest gift to the world.”
Once we get a message from Heaven, our response should be “let’s go now.” When Jesus gave the great commission our response should be “let’s go now.”
I am so grateful that God not only gave the Middle Class (the innkeeper) the opportunity to come forth and be blessed, but He also gave the humble lowly shepherds the same opportunity.
Once again let’s consider a third class of people. The wealthy upper class – yes the lofty wise men who responded to another heavenly sign and came to worship Jesus.
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him (Matthew 2:1,2)
Nothing much is known about these wise men, or Magi, other than they were from the Orient. Historically the Magi were scholars, with a great knowledge of science, agriculture, mathematics, and history. These Magi saw a spectacular star appear in the sky, such as they had never seen before, and they took it to be an indication of an extraordinary person being born in the land of Judea.
If I had been a scholar, a wealthy wise man, and I saw a star suddenly appear before me, would I have followed it? It would have been very easy for them to say: “If an important King was born that warrants such a sign, I’m sure that we will hear of it soon in our own country and then we can go and pay homage to him.” But they did not wait, they set out to find this King, and to worship Him. It was not easy as they traveled the dusty, hot long trail on their camels. Yes it necessitated going through the desert and all of this simply because of a star giving the announcement of Christ’s birth.
When they arrived in Jerusalem, they began asking: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” The original Greek here emphasizes a continual action, suggesting that they went up to every person they saw and asked this question. Because they as foreigners knew of this monumental birth, they assumed that everyone in Judea, and especially in Jerusalem would have been aware of this also. Can you imagine the shock they felt when no one seemed to know about that to which they were referring?
I believe that they must have begun to question all that they had seen and heard up to this point. Here they were after having traveled a long distance because of a star that they had seen while in their homeland. They must have been terribly confused as to where they should go. Despite what is traditionally taught, the Bible here indicates that the star did not appear to them and lead them during their travels. The passage here tells us that they did not see the star again until after they had met with Herod.
When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. (Matthew 2:9,10)
The joy that they felt when they saw the star once again was almost indescribable. The original text piles up superlative upon superlative to emphasize the extent of exhilaration they felt. The star not only reappeared, but it led them directly to the home where Jesus was.
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11)
When they got to the house of Mary and Joseph, they did something that they longed to do, they bowed down and worshipped Jesus. Then they presented their gifts to Him, Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. The Bible does not tell us what was done with these gifts, but it is very likely that Joseph used them to finance their trip they had made to Egypt and help to support the family while they were there. We know the reason for their journey to Egypt as found in Matthew 2:13-15.
Now, I must put myself in the Magi’s place. Where would I have been while in the atmosphere of my homeland? Could I be thinking “I don’t need the desert, I don’t need to get on that camel and go to who knows where and would I have tried to rationalize the signs away? After all there could be many meanings to that star, how do I know for certain that this is really something special. It could just be an unusual confluence of stars in the sky, and it doesn’t have any special meaning. Thank the Lord they said that this is significant, this is important, we have to go and find out about the true meaning of this special sign. They went, they asked the right questions until they got the true answer they needed to find Christ Jesus the Savior of the world. Would I have been that persistent?
As the innkeeper would I have stayed behind the counter and told Mary her she could go into the stable to have her child amongst the animals? Instead I trust that I would have been quickly on my feet to help her.
I pray that I would have been one of the shepherds quickly on my feet to say “let us go now” as the angels have instructed us.
And if I had been a wealthy Magi I trust that I would have used that wisdom to follow the star and keep asking the right question until I found the way to worship Jesus.
What would I have done if I lived back then? Whether I was wealthy, middle class, or poor, where would I be? I trust that I would have made the right choice. Today I have the joy of making the right choice! I have chosen to open my heart and life to Jesus the Lord and ask Him to dwell there. Truly one can only be complete if He is in the heart!
As we celebrate this glorious season we need to keep our eyes on what is truly important. This is so beautifully illustrated in the painting by Rembrandt The Adoration of the Shepherds where all of the light was made to fall on the baby in the manger. Every one and everything else was only in the shadows. Let us focus on Him, now and always.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
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