Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 4
Thesis: The sign was an encouragement to joy.
Introduction: So far in our studies of Luke's record of the angelic visitation to the shepherds, we have argued that the purpose of the record is to focus upon God's desire for His people to experience the joy of His salvation as an on-going, daily reality. We have seen that the bottom line of this experience is the confidence that the "objective" barriers to an interpersonal, interactive relationship with the Most High God have all been removed by the activities of the Savior Who was born in the city of David in real time history more than 2000 years ago. By "objective" I mean those barriers which exist outside of the heart/mind realities of man's existence...those overt actions of sin which have generated a demand in Justice for punitive retribution in the form of distance from the Life of God...physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In light of the removal of the "objective" barriers, there remains only one problem: the removal of the "subjective" barrier of loveless unbelief. It is to this issue that the "sign" was given.
February 27, 2005
- I. The Magnitude of the Claim Made a "Sign" Imperative.
- A. The claim was unimaginably huge.
- 1. It was a claim that every action taken by every human being that ever lived in this real-time, cause-and-effect, universe has been effectively nullified as a "death-producer" at the "objective" level.
- 2. It was a claim that the effective nullification of the ability of sins to produce death has only one barrier: the disbelief that the claim is true.
- 3. It was a claim that when a person "believes" in the "Nullifier", his entire eternity (including the present) has "death" erased from his experience...there is no more death in the experience of the believer. There are only steps of progression into an ever-expanding experience of Life.
- B. The claim is unimaginably true.
- 1. In Romans 8:28 we are pointedly told that there is nothing that happens to us in this world that is not "converted" into a "good-producer" by the Savior in whom we have believed.
- 2. In Romans 8:38-39 we are pointedly told that it was the apostle's firm conviction that nothing can re-insert sin's death-production into our experience.
- 3. In Romans 8:18 and 1 Peter 5:1 we are pointedly told that there is no "suffering" in this present time that will not be "converted" into an indescribable glory when all is said and done.
- C. The claim has only one caveat: The claim is only experienced by those who believe it.
- 1. Without faith, the experience of death is on-going and progressively more severe.
- 2. By faith, the actions of death are converted into an on-going, and progressively greater, experience of life.
- 3. The operative issue is the issue of "present believing".
- a. The experience of death is experienced in the presence of unbelief regardless of whether a person is "justified" or "already condemned".
- b. The experience of the Joy of Life is immediately present to the justified who are presently believing.
- II. Because All Hangs Upon the Issue of Present Believing, the Sign Was Necessary.
- A. The Sign was not necessary to generate faith.
- 1. The angel, the glory of the Lord, the host of heaven...these were the instruments of God to initiate the presence of faith in the hearts/minds of the shepherds.
- 2. None of us in this room came to the experience of faith by means of a "sign".
- 3. It is the testimony of Scripture that "signs" do not have the capacity to over-ride entrenched unbelief.
- 4. It is also the testimony of Scripture that faith is the exclusive domain of the work of the Spirit.
- B. The Sign was needful after the fact.
- 1. Faith is not presented in the Scripture as a once-for-all done deal.
- a. Titus 1:10-11.
- b. 1 Thessalonians 3:5.
- c. 1 Timothy 1:19.
- 2. Faith is presented in the Scripture as needing nourishment.
- a. 1 Timothy 4:6.
- b. 1 Timothy 4:16.
- C. The Sign teaches the necessity of the Sign.
- 1. The single most critical issue of the Sign was the presence of the baby in the manger.
- 2. The notable thing about "mangers" is that they hold the food which the sheep will eat.
- 3. That Jesus was initially introduced as the food of the sheep signals just how absolutely critical it is to eat regularly of the True Bread of Heaven. There is no lesson more needful for death to be subverted into an instrument of Life.