Online Worship for Advent Two, Sunday December 5, 2021
Sermon for Advent Two – Sunday December 5, 2021
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus, the Christ. Amen.
1 John 2:2; 4:9-10
2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.**
In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
Who is both the Giver and the Gift,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood –
“It’s the season of giving.” Whether we like it or not, the giving of gifts has become a part our Christmas celebration each year. We celebrate other special days with gifts too – birthdays, weddings and anniversaries – but on a far lesser scale. In recent years some have tried to ‘buck the trend’ by giving money to charities on behalf of another, giving a gift to someone else for someone else.
But for most, there is no ‘middle man’ in our Christmas gift giving. We go out and choose the gifts and we give them. Giving gifts requires some preparation (although I read recently that 62% of Americans buy their gifts during the week before Christmas).
There are no required gifts. Each and every gift is up to the giver. We may ask what folks want from time to time, because we want to give something that they want, that makes them happy...rather than purely practical gifts like socks and underwear.
While the name behind the “From” on the gift tag may differ from present to present, mature Christians recognize that everything that we have comes from God. Our Creator is the one who blesses us with health and with employment. We earn money with which we obtain gifts for one another.
But our gifts pale in comparison with the presents that God gives us.
I’m not thinking of house and home, food and clothing either. I’m thinking of the Spiritual gifts that God gives to us through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. For us, God’s Son is both the giver and the gift, the one through whom every spiritual gift comes to us.
May God the Holy Spirit bless us as we meditate upon these words so that we may marvel at God’s presents to us. We ask that the Spirit of God would increase our faith and love through these words. Amen.
For me, sometimes gift giving isn’t easy. We give gifts to the same people every year and after a while we wonder what to give. I’m certain that I’m not the only one who has faced this conundrum because a cliché has arisen from it.
“What do you give to someone who has everything?”
No one really has everything. No one has everything they could ever want...if you think so, take a look at a catalog or wander through Kohls or Walmart...you will find something that you don’t have that you want.
Let me ask another question:
“What do you give to someone who has nothing and needs everything?”
Well, that seems much easier. If someone has nothing, then you can get them nearly anything. If someone has nothing, then we might focus on the necessities of life like food and clothing and shelter. But... honestly...do you KNOW ANYONE like that...who has nothing and needs everything? It’s difficult for us even to conceive of it, even though some charities would have us believe that many are without the necessities of life.
“Do you know ANYONE who has nothing and needs everything?”
Well, I suppose that depends on what kinds of things we are talking about.
Material? If we are talking about earthly things, there seem to be very few who literally have NOTHING...in part because God provides for the needs of every living thing.
Spiritual? On the other hand, if we are talking about spiritual things like the forgiveness of sins, peace of heart and mind, confidence in the face of death, there are a great number of people who have none of these things because they are without hope and without God in the world (cf. Ephesians 2:12-13) ...even if they would deny it.
Why don’t people see their great spiritual need?
Well, because Satan has been extremely successful in deceiving people. Today, people who have NOTHING of which to boast before God, imagine that they are ‘good enough’ that their future is assured and when they die, they will go to ‘a better place’ and the reason they are sure of it is...well because. They have blinders on and think they see clearly.
Turn on the news...if you can’t see that this world is broken...then you have blinders on too. It is the human way to shrug our shoulders and say, “Well, it is what it is.” “Let’s make the best of it.” “It’s not so bad.” It is the human way to minimize the problem, to think that we don’t need anything (or more accurately we don’t know what we need).
God reveals to us our great need from within. When God created us, He gave each a guilt barometer, called the conscience. It makes us feel guilty when we do wrong. It tells us that we are accountable to God. It tells us that there are consequences for doing wrong.
God also reveals the ultimate problem in His Word.
But God went a step further with the Jews. He gave them His Law in written form. He also commanded they offer up sacrifices for sin. Every morning and evening an animal was deprived of its life, its blood was shed. It was a visible, bloody reminder that there are consequences for sin.
The Creator made it clear that (Hebrews 9:22):
“...without shedding of blood there is no remission (forgiveness).”
There is no ‘making up for sin’ there is no ‘doing better next time.’ There is sin and consequence, especially for sinful human beings.
Our Creator God knows all things...and He knows better than we do what we really NEED. That’s why God didn’t send to humanity new socks or a change of clothes. He didn’t send a gaming system or a new car. He sent someone to give something we don’t have to give - to earn what we didn’t think we needed.
God sent His Son, who is the atoning sacrifice for every single sin. In 1 John 2:2, it is stated plainly:
2 He [Jesus Christ] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
When the crowd cleared away, there was one present under the Tree on Good Friday. If there had been a box with a bow and a tag it would have said: “From: GOD. To: The World.” God didn’t send His Son into the world to make atonement for a handful of the descendants of Abraham. It would have been too small a thing, too small a gift. God sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, that includes everyone even if it only benefits those who open the gift and hold it close.
So, when we sin...instead of minimizing it or promising to do better...we are wrap our arms around God’s Gift, God’s Son. When Satan and conscience says, “You aren’t good enough” “You are a sinner.” You may reply, “I am a sinner, but God gave His son to be the atoning sacrifice for my sins, indeed for the sins of the world.”
So... have you picked up gifts for everyone on your list?
Why exactly do we give gifts? Do we just do it because we’ve always done it? Are they always prompted by love and care or do we feel an inner obligation? We have different reasons for giving.
What moved God to give this priceless present? We don’t have to guess. He gave it so that we might have life.
9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
Love...we all claim to have it...to know what it is. Sometimes we define love as an emotion, a feeling that comes and goes. Love can be expressed with words and a promise. But sometimes our expressions of love are cheap...they require nothing but a trip to the dollar store for a card. Real love is more than an emotion, more than words.
Real love is active, self-less and genuine. God’s Love is the ultimate example.
For you see, God’s present...wasn’t last minute from the dollar store. He made plans to save us in eternity. He didn’t offer up one more of a countless supply of lambs or bulls. God’s gift was real love, it was priceless. God sent His one and only Son into the human race to die for sinners.
There was no backup plan. God didn’t have another plan, another gift in case we didn’t like it. He gave his Son so that we might live – in time and for eternity – through faith in Him. God didn’t send His Son to blaze a trail, to show us what we need to do to make it to heaven. He sent His Son to make it possible for us to obtain forgiveness for sin and eternal life by faith.
God’s Love is greater by far than our love. In fact, they aren’t worthy to be compared! When we compare our love to God’s love for us we see how paltry ours really is.
10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.**
God’s Love... is the ultimate example. God didn’t’ look at our potential and invest in us (it wasn’t about us). We had no potential. It was a quality in God, His grace. It was His Love, that moved him to send his Son...to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Here’s the thing – we only appreciate God’s Present when we see how greatly we need it. If we think we aren’t so bad, or that everything will be ok, then we probably won’t rejoice to hear – “There is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
When we see the truth about ourselves from God’s Law...we understand that we need forgiveness for sins. We need to be reconciled to God...because the worst possible enemy to have is the Creator.
God didn’t want to be our enemy...which is why He gave us the Present that He did. It’s the only present that offers us a real future, an eternal one.
From the bondage that oppressed us, From sin’s fetters that possessed us, From the grief that sore distressed us, We, the captives, now are free.
Oh, the joy beyond expressing When by faith we grasp this blessing
And to Thee we come confessing That our freedom Thou hast wrought.