The angel opens his discourse by saying, that he announces great joy; and next assigns the ground or matter of joy, that a Savior is born. These words show us, first, that, until men have peace with God, and are reconciled to him through the grace of Christ, all the joy that they experience is deceitful, and of short duration. … The commencement of solid joy is, to perceive the fatherly love of God toward us, which alone gives tranquility to our minds. And this “joy,” in which, Paul tells us, “the kingdom of God” consists, is “in the Holy Spirit,” (Romans 14:17.) By calling it great joy, he shows us, not only that we ought, above all things, to rejoice in the salvation brought us by Christ, but that this blessing is so great and boundless, as fully to compensate for all the pains, distresses, and anxieties of the present life. Let us learn to be so delighted with Christ alone, that the perception of his grace may overcome, and at length remove from us, all the distresses of the flesh.
There are some persons who talk about God changing His purpose—such people do not know what God is at all. How could God change!? God must either change from a better to a worse, or from a worse to a better. If he could change from a worse to a better, He is not perfect now. And if He could change from what He is to something worse, He would not be perfect then—and He would not be God.
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. (John 6:33 ESV)
Craig R. Brown:
In summary, the Arminian believes that man is born sick in sin, but still has enough good in him to choose God. The Calvinist believes that man is born corrupt (dead in his sin), so he must be made alive spiritually before he can do anything of a spiritual nature. Under the Calvinistic doctrinal system, man’s depravity is total in extent (though not in degree). In other words, all of man’s nature is corrupted by sin, but he is not as evil as he could be. (The Five Dilemmas of Calvinism)
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-8 ESV)
It was a mark of humiliation put upon the Lord Jesus that, though he was the Desire of all nations, yet his coming into the world was little observed and taken notice of, his birth was obscure and unregarded: herein he emptied himself, and made himself of no reputation. If the Son of God must be brought into the world, one might justly expect that he should be received with all the ceremony possible, that crowns and scepters should immediately have been laid at his feet, and that the high and mighty princes of the world should have been his humble servants; such a Messiah as this the Jews expected, but we see none of all this; he came into the world, and the world knew him not; nay, he came to his own, and his own received him not; for having undertaken to make satisfaction to his Father for the wrong done him in his honor by the sin of man, he did it by denying himself in, and despoiling himself of, the honors undoubtedly due to an incarnate Deity. . . . (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)
Hear the word of the LORD, O children of Israel, for the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; (Hosea 4:1 ESV)
Charles Colson speaks of a modern “return to the Dark Ages.” When I think of the original Dark Ages, I think of a period when culture was in decline and the progress of knowledge was static.
But today we read of the problem of the explosion of knowledge. It is a time when information and communications are big business. We hear the cry from the universities that knowledge in every field of investigation is increasing so rapidly that no one can assimilate it, even in the most narrow of specialties. The age of the “expert” is over. The word expert must now be defined in relative terms.
If knowledge is light and the light is exploding in magnitude, how can we speak of a new Dark Ages? The darkness is in the heart. It is a darkness produced by a shroud covering the face of God.
Thirty years ago, I read a book written by the Jewish philosopher and theologian Martin Buber. Buber’s book had an ominous title: The Eclipse of God. That is the eclipse of our age. A shadow has passed over the glory of God. We are a people who will not have God in our thinking. We have returned to Plato’s cave, in which we prefer the dancing shadows on the wall of ungrounded opinion over the light of truth. (Visit R. C. Sproul’s web page here. . . .)
Craig R. Brown:
While we are free from our perspective, we must realize that absolute “freedom” – total freedom from God’s control – is simply not possible in a world providentially sustained and directed by God Himself. Human freedom is real, but it is everywhere limited by God’s freedom. It is God who is sovereign, not man. This sovereignty is never limited by human freedom. Rather, human freedom is always limited by God’s sovereignty. (The Five Dilemmas of Calvinism)
Abiding in Christ is just meant for the weak, and so beautifully suited to their feebleness. It is not the doing of some great thing and does not demand that we first lead a holy and devoted life. No, it is simply weakness entrusting itself to a Mighty One to be kept—the unfaithful one casting self on One who is altogether trustworthy and true. Abiding in Him is not a work that we have to do as the condition for enjoying His salvation, but a consenting to let Him do all for us, and in us, and through us. It is a work He does for us: the fruit and the power of His redeeming love. Our part is simply to yield, to trust, and to wait for what He has engaged to perform. (Andrew Murray on Prayer)