SOH-03 - Season Of Hope - Jesus Came to Shine Real & Lasting Hope into Our Hopeless Lives

161211AM Jesus Better SOH-3.docx

Season of Hope:

Jesus Came to Shine Real & Lasting

Hope into our Hopeless Lives

Luke 1:67-79

 

 

 

Christmas is when God announced that Hope had arrived.

God wrapped His Hope in a Person so that we could see God’s love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness.

Hope has a Name and it is Jesus.

Hope comes with promises that are completely attached to that Person.

Have you met Jesus?

God gave Hope a face, the face of Jesus.

Hope is a person the most loving person that ever lived, the kindest, the most reliable and trustworthy. Jesus the best, the most honest, caring person that will ever live. He will never mislead you, never betray you, never hurt you.

He is always wanting to help, never out of time, never out of touch.

He will always pay attention to you, listen to you, and guard and protect you.

  

God Defines & Promises Hope

That’s what God promised way back in Luke 1:67-79.

If you know Him, and thus cling to Him, He promises that His Presence:

Ends our Loneliness

End our Purposelessness

Ends our Anxiousness

Ends our Fearfulness

Ends our Dirtiness

Ends our Guiltiness

Ends our Darkness/Emptiness

Please stand and listen to what Jesus came to do, and is still doing:

Luke 1:67-79 Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying: 68 “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people, 69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David, 70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began, 71 That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us, 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant, 73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham: 74 To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. 76 “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, 77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins, 78 Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; 79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.” 

Pray

 

What God Promised that Jesus Can Do

Look back over those words we just read. There are several clear statements of what Christ's coming would make possible in the lives of those who come to Him:

1.     Ends our Loneliness. Never alone and uncared for again. Only Jesus can “visit and redeem” anyone who calls out to Him. Think about it, who else would even hear anyone, anywhere calling out? Only Jesus would be able to respond anywhere at anytime v. 68.

2.     Ends our Purposelessness. Never powerless, purposeless, and hopeless again. Only Jesus can be the “horn” or power “of salvation”. Jesus is the power of God unto salvation. That Greek word for power is where we get the English word dynamite v. 69.

3.     Ends our Anxiousness. Never anxious and troubled again. Only Jesus can “save” anyone, anywhere v. 71; and v. 72 “perform the mercy promised” to anyone, anywhere.

4.     Ends our Fearfulness. Never fearful and afraid again. Only Jesus can v. 74 “deliver” anyone, anywhere from “fear”.

5.     Ends our Dirtiness. Never dirty, defiled, and defeated by sin again. Only Jesus can make us to be “in holiness and righteousness before Him” v. 75.

6.     Ends our Guiltiness. Never guilty again. Only Jesus gives the “knowledge of salvation” v. 77 to anyone, anywhere that responds to the Gospel; and only Jesus can grant instantaneously the “remission” of their sins. 

 

7.     Ends our Darkness. Never confused, abandoned, and in the dark again. Finally, in v. 79, only Jesus can give “light” to anyone in the shadow of death; and only Jesus can guide anyone, anywhere no matter what they have done in their life, “into the way of peace”.

That is what Jesus can do. That is the gift that God sent at Christmas.  

 

How Do We Get all those Promises?

We get everything promised in Christ by fleeing to Him as our refuge of hope.

We Run to Jesus.

We Cry out for help to Jesus.

We Reach out like He is your only hope (which is the truth).

Christ was portrayed by the Cities of Refuge in Hebrews 6:18-20.

 

Jesus is easy to reach. 

Just like God designed that the six cities be located within access of everyone in Israel, so Jesus is easy to reach. There is no place where He can’t be found. He is not far from anyone.

Acts 17:26-27 (NKJV) And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;

 

Jesus opens His arms to all

Anyone can come to Him for Christ is open to all — the Jew and the Gentile, the Greek and the barbarian, to all people.

Isaiah 45:22 “Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other;

Matthew 11:28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;

Revelation 22:17 And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

 

Jesus can satisfy any need

The cities of refuge provided a safe place to live, legal protection, and food to eat. Jesus offers life, and live overflowing with abundance to all who come to Him.

  

Jesus never locks His gates

Anyone can come to Him for Christ never locks His gates

Jesus told us that He is the Door—and we know that He is the Door that is never shut, never locked, never barred. To the very last words of the Bible is Revelation 22 He is still saying, “Come.” 

There is no need to wake Him.  He is infinite; He is God; He is never asleep. 

We do not have to beat upon the door and die because He does not open it.   

 

Jesus is Our Refuge of Hope  

So Christ is easy to reach;

His arms are open to all;

His entrance is never locked;

He is a completely sufficient refuge, and

He is the only hope.

How wonderful.

But, there are differences between the cities of refuge and Christ our refuge. 

Christ is portrayed by the cities of refuge but He is so much better!

 

Jesus is better than any City of Refuge

There are three reasons why Jesus is better than any earthly city of refuge.

Cities of Refuge were only for the innocent; but Jesus died only for the guilty.

Cities of Refuge were only for temporary refuge; but Jesus offers only permanent refuge.

Cities of Refuge were a hard and dangerous journey for anyone trying to get to one of those cities; but Jesus is closer than any city of refuge.

 

Christ is better because He died only for the guilty.

The biggest difference is that the cities of refuge protected only the innocent.  They were only for the man who killed by mistake. When the slayer came to the city, he was admitted but he was also tried. With us, there is no trial, for we are already condemned!

The elders of the city only protected someone who was innocent of murder, but Christ receives guilty sinners. That’s grace!

 John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Christ died for the guilty sinner. 

Who is that guilty sinner?  Every one of us can say, “It is I!”

How is it possible that the holy God would accept those that are guilty?  It is not by giving up His holiness.  He does not devalue that, or we would have no moral absolute in the universe.  Rather, the reason Christ is able to be our Redeemer is that He is a high priest and the sacrifice He gave was His own death. 

 

Jesus died only for the guilty

“What a picture this is for us today! This reveals that Christ is our refuge. Listen to what this means— I have already been carried into court, and at the trial I was found guilty.

 

I was a sinner. The penalty which was leveled against me was death—and it has already been executed. Christ bore the penalty for me, you see. Because He died in my place, I am free.

 

I have been delivered from the penalty of sin; never do I have to answer for it again.

 I am free now to go out and serve Him.

 

I now have a High Priest, a resurrected Savior, to whom I can go.

 

What a wonderful picture of my Savior this gives! The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Now all these things happened unto them [the Old Testament stories] for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Cor. 10:11).

 

“Ensamples” are types. Millions of things could have been recorded, but God chose to record only these things because they enable us to grow in our understanding of Him and our relationship to Him[1].”

 

Christ is better because He Lives Forever

A person only could stay in a city of refuge until the death of the high priest, and then left.  Christ is our high priest.  He has died once for all, and He lives forever.  So though we are legally guilty before God, when we cast ourselves upon Him we are free forever.

Our High Priest will never die, and because He lives, we live also. Hebrews 7:23-27 says this strongly:

And they, truly, were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death; but this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.  Wherefore, he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.  For such an high priest became us who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s; for this he did once, when he offered up himself (Heb. 7:23-27)

 

Jesus offers only Permanent Refuge

Christ is better because He offers only Permanent Refuge. Hebrews also speaks of Christ as “the forerunner [who] is for us entered” (Heb. 6:20).  That means that He has entered into God’s presence and that we can enter, too. When do we enter this refuge?  I would suggest we enter at three different times. 

First, we enter in once for all at the moment we cast ourselves upon Christ and accept Him as our Savior.  We are declared justified by God the judge on the basis of Christ’s finished work.

 In Romans 5:11 Paul uses the aorist tense, indicating our justification is a past thing, completed forever.  If we are saved, we are saved.

Romans 5:11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

Remember—justification means that God has no record that we even sinned. Our sins are paid for, put on Christ's account and gone forever!

Second, we enter every daily moment into this refuge as Christians when we claim the blood of Christ to cover a specific sin. 

1 John 1:7, 9 “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Third, we will enter in perfectly and completely at that great moment when we die or when the Lord returns.

[2]Hebrews 7:24-25 “But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

 

Jesus is nearer than any city of refuge. 

A runner could fall and not be able to get to a fugitive in time to shelter him within the walls of safety, but a man who looks to Christ can never fail.  The Bible makes a specific promise: “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).  In fact, Jesus says, “I stand at the door and knock” (Rev. 3:20).  He Himself seeks us[3].

How near is Christ? To answer that let me share the following story that was told by Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951) who traveled for more than 50 years as a home missionary, evangelist and Bible teacher.  He was pastor of Moody Memorial Church, a visiting professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and the author of more than 60 books and pamphlets.

The following is a tract he wrote called “The Way of Peace”.

 

Jesus is the Way of Peace

Dr. Charles Berry was one of the first of the so-called New Theology men, who preached salvation by character rather than by the atoning blood of Christ, salvation by ethical culture rather than by personal faith in the Lord Jesus, salvation by reformation rather than by regeneration.  Popular, eloquent and personally pleasing, he attracted large audiences, who hung upon his words and depended upon him as their spiritual mentor.

 

But a great change was seen in his preaching, which resulted from a new experience with God, which revolutionized his thinking.  In telling his friend Dr. Jowett about it, he said that late one stormy night, as he was preparing to retire, the doorbell rang.  When he went down and opened the door, there stood a poorly dressed young woman who asked if he was the minister.  Upon being assured that he was, she begged him to go with her at once to get her mother in.

 

He thought that she meant that her poor mother was out in the storm and the darkness in an intoxicated condition; so he demurred, saying he could hardly be expected to go out and get her mother in and suggested that she see a policeman who might give the help required.

 

The girl explained that her mother was not drunk and added, "You must come with me.  My mother is dying, and she is afraid to die.  She wants to go to heaven, but she doesn't know how to get in." I told her I'd get a preacher to take her in.

 

"Do come, Sir, and get my mother in.”

 

He now understood that the dying woman needed someone who could show her the way of salvation, but he hesitated, thinking it was hardly a case for him.  He urged the girl to go to a missioner living near the wretched locality in which she lived.  But she refused.  She insisted she wanted a real minister and begged him to go with her.  "Do come, sir.  I want you to get my mother in before it's too late.  Please, sir, do come with me."

 

At last he consented to go, and the girl led the way to one of the worst sections of the city.  In this miserable neighborhood she took him into a tenement house and up a rickety flight of stairs to a poverty-stricken room.  Downstairs many men and women were drinking and carousing, and the air resounded with horrid oaths and vile language.  The minister found the poor woman lying on a miserable makeshift of a bed, evidently near to death.

 

"I've brought him!" exclaimed the daughter.  "I've got the minister from the big church where the swells go. He'll get you in, Mother.  Just do what he says."

 

"What can I do for you, my poor woman?" he inquired as kindly as he could.

 

"Why, sir, I'm dying, and I want you to get me into heaven.  I've been a great sinner, and I don't know how to get in."

 

The minister began to speak of the necessity of a good life, of building a noble character, and how goodness always paid in the end.

 

"You don't understand, sir!" she cried.  "That won't do!  I'm dying and I've lived a bad life.  It's too late for me. Oh, can't you get me in?"

 

He tried again and gave some good advice and endeavored to comfort her by expressing the hope that all would be well if she would only seek to lead a Christian life.

 

"That won't do!" she exclaimed.  "I'm a poor sinner!  I've no time to lead a Christian life.  I'm dying and I want to go in.  Oh, can't you tell me how I may get into heaven?"

 

Dr. Berry did not know what to say or how to comfort her.  At last he thought, "Why not tell her what my mother used to tell me?  Why not give her some of the simple texts and Gospel stories I learned as a child?"

 

With this in mind he began to repeat some of the precious Gospel verses telling of God's love for sinners and of the Savior who had died to redeem.  The woman listened eagerly.  "That's it!  That ought to get me in, shouldn't it!  Did he die for sinners?  Then that should get me in."

 

Stirred to the depths of his own being he told the story of the cross as he had not preached it for years.  Like a thirsty soul, she drank in the living water.  Finally, he knelt and prayed with her. 

 

She trusted Christ for herself.  Her fears were allayed and she entered into peace.

 

"Jowett," said Dr. Berry years afterward, "I helped get her in that night, and while I was helping to get her in, I got myself in also!" [4]

 

Jesus is Our Refuge

The similarities between the cities of refuge and Christ, our refuge, are striking.  We can compare them point for point. 

Christ is easy to reach.  We may cast ourselves upon Christ at any time, in any place.    

 

Christ is open to all — the Jew and the Gentile, the Greek and the barbarian, to all people.   Matthew 11:28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

 

Christ never locks His gates.  It is good that there is no gate to unlock and that men can enter quickly. What a picture of Christ! No one need ever wonder how to come to Him, for we come to Him by faith. He will never turn any sinner away (John 6:37)[5].  

 

Christ is a completely sufficient refuge.      

 

Christ offers only Permanent Refuge.

 

Christ died only for the guilty.

 

Finally, if we do not flee to the refuge which God has given to us at such a great price, there is no help for us.  No lost sinner today can afford to delay in fleeing to the only refuge, Jesus Christ[6].

 

Come Every Soul by Sin Oppressed

Only Trust Him #330

 

 

 

[1]  McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 2000, c1981.

[2] McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers) 2000, c1981.

[3] Schaeffer, Francis A., The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books) 1985.  

[4] Harry A. Ironside, @ 1940 American Tract Society, Garland, Texas

[5] Hodgkin, Christ in all the Scriptures,in loc..

[6] Warren W. Wiersbe, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament, (InterVarsity Press: IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament ) Downer’s Grove, IL.