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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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God Did Not Wait!

Jerry BridgesJerry Bridges:

God did not wait for a change of heart on our part. He made the first move. Indeed, He did more than that. He did all was necessary to secure our reconciliation, including our change of heart. Even though He is the One offended by our sin, He is the One who makes amends to Himself through the death of Christ. (The Gospel for Real Life, p. 94)

Celebrating Christmas

Presentation of baby Jesus at the TempleDenzil John:

As we prepare for our traditional celebrations, let us remember those who will not be looking forward to this festival. Let us remember too how Jesus identified with the oppressed and the homeless. Let the joy of the festival touch more of the people of our world this year than ever before. May God be glorified and may people of good will once again experience His peace.

Christmas Names

Names of Jesus ChristNow the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:18-21 ESV)

On this fourth Sunday of the Advent season, let us pause to consider two names given to the Son of God. Jesus was actually a very common Jewish name often given in memory of Joshua (Hebrew form of the name Jesus). Jesus (Joshua) means “God is Savior”. Jesus would save people from their sins.

He saves from the guilt of sin by offering His blood as the atonement for sins. (Romans 5:8-9) Jesus also saves us from the power of sin by sending the Holy Spirit to break sin’s dominion through sanctification. (Romans 8:1-2 and 12-14) Only Jesus can save us from the wrath of God to come.

The name of Jesus should, therefore, be a very encouraging name to us. We may have salvation through this name. Through Jesus we find mercy as He intercedes on our behalf. For us, the name of Jesus is a very precious name.

Matthew, however, continues to record another name which is also significant to us:

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:22-23 ESV)

Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the virgin giving birth to a child, who would be called Immanuel, may be found in Isaiah 7:14. This name reveals the nature of Jesus; He is God! Isaiah goes on to declare that He is the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6 ESV) We may find in the name Immanuel a strong foundation for our faith and hope; for Christ has come in the flesh, “so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:17-18 ESV)

The son of a virgin and raised by a carpenter, Immanuel proved true to His name by His resurrection from the dead. He is truly “God with us!” The names Jesus (God is Savior) and Immanuel (God with us) should inspire our confidence in the preservation of our salvation from the eternal consequences of sin.

During the remaining time of the Advent season, think on these two names given to our Lord. Consider how they might apply to the following verses:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:16-18 ESV)

Samuel at Gilgal

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