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Tuesday, December 4, 2018
First Sunday of Advent: What is Truth? Part two
What is Truth?
Part Two of Three
On the first Sunday of Advent this year
I preached a message to the people living in the 55+ community that I visit
each week. I reorganized that sermon into an essay. Because of its length, I
divided the message into three parts. My text focused on Luke 1:4 wherein the
beloved physician tells us the purpose of his letter: “So that you (i.e.
Theophilus) may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.”
Continuing with the theme of God's truth, part two now focuses on what are some of the essential truths God wants everyone to know –
and by which He wants everyone to live:
Truth number one: You and I – everyone on planet
earth – are sinners. If we don’t get this truth about our sin-nature, then none
of the other truths of Scripture can have the impact God designed truth to
Scripture gives several
lists of damnable sins, but here is only a partial one for an example: Galatians 5:19-21 “. . .
.sexual immorality [which includes pornography, fornication, adultery, and
homosexuality] . . . hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger,
selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness . . . and other sins
like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that
sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
The Holy Spirit does not
soften the point as so many pastors and teachers might soften the point. Sin is
a damnable offense against God. That’s why He reiterates the theme throughout
the New Testament, “All have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23); and then: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of
God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
That was truth number one:
We are sinners. We might not want to think of ourselves in that way, but our
opinion of ourselves is worthless if that opinion contradicts God’s truth. We need to acknowledge to God
the truth about our sin nature. If we do not, Truth number two will be
meaningless and – worse – of no eternal value to us.
Truth number two: Jesus came to save sinners from
Most Christians can recite
John 3:16from memory: “For God so loved the world, that he gave
his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but
have everlasting life.”
That verse is an important
truth to hide in our hearts: God loves the sinner (not the sin) – God loves the
sinner so much that He sent His Son into our world to save everyone who wants
to be saved from the eternal Lake of Fire.
St. John tells us again in
his first epistle: “Herein
is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
Propitiation is an uncommon
word in our day. The Greek word, ‘hilasmos,’ translated as propitiation in most Bibles, carries
the idea of appeasement, atonement, or satisfaction. It means Jesus’
death on the cross appeased God’s wrath toward sin – thereby providing the
means of reconciliation between the sinner and God. The word is closely tied to
the idea of a substitutionary sacrifice whereby the sin – and the requisite
punishment for the sin – are transferred from one person to another.
is how Isaiah explains what Messiah did for us: Isaiah 53:5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we
are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his
own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
New Testament writers pick up this theme in the various letters. Here is what
Paul writes to the church at Corinth: “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye
reconciled to God. For he hath made him to
be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness
of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)
let’s summarize: God’s truth tells us we are all sinners. Truth then tells us
Jesus became our substitutionary sacrifice to pay the penalty – to pay the
ransom – our sins deserve. That’s why
the Lord Jesus said: “. . . the Son of
Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for
many.” (Matthew 20:28).
Truth number three tells us
God calls us everyone to a lifestyle of repentance. We’ll look at that
truth next time.