Thursday, August 17, 2017

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon The Eternal Purpose of God ]

Lonnie Branam
Luke 2:6-14

The birth of Jesus Christ is a many-faceted subject. I could deliver a series of messages on this subject lasting several weeks, and they would all approach the theme from a different viewpoint. The religious world calls attention to His birth once a year, but it is a theme which deserves much more than a once-a-year remembrance. In this message we shall zero in on what a multitude of angelic beings said to the shepherds of Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born. After one angel announced His birth and location to the shepherds, Luke 2:13,14 says, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “ Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” What a beautiful tribute to the birth of Christ, and how elevated in thought are the words of a countless number of angelic beings on that famous night. Standing on earth in human form, they glorify God and praised His name for this birth which has taken place. When the angels said, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men,” this did not refer to a particular class of people who are believers in Christ; it referred to the entire human race. The birth of Christ was a display of God's goodwill toward all man kind that made it possible for the entire human race to live forever in heaven. That is what this angelic praise was all about.

The first thing we learn from this passage is that there is a higher order of intelligent beings than human beings. Who are these beings who offer up praises to God over the birth of a child? The word angel is applied in Scripture to an order of supernatural or heavenly beings whose business is to act as God's messengers to mankind. According to the knowledge given us in the Bible, God has only two orders of intelligent beings: angelic and human, heavenly beings and earthly beings. The word angel means a messenger, but the messengers in on this occasion were heavenly messengers. Two powerful angels are mentioned in the Bible by name: Gabriel and Michael. They have powers beyond our imagination. Two angels were commissioned to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, and they caused such an explosion that it is thought that it formed the Dead Sea. One angel destroyed the Assyrian army in the days of Isaiah, killing 185,000 soldiers overnight. It is certain that from the beginning of the earth God used angels in human form, with human voices, to communicate with mankind. The Bible records countless visits of angels to men from the time of Adam to the time of Christ. With the writing of the book of Revelation, the Bible now contains all of God's communications for mankind. Therefore, angelic visits are no longer necessary. But we owe them a debt of gratitude for delivering many of


God's messages to mankind. They have much affection for us, and we should love them in return. They are the only intelligent creatures who know how the universe was created. They were present at the creation of the universe. God said to Job after his ordeal with Satan, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth. Tell me if you have understanding? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy”(Job 38:7). The sons of God in this passage necessarily refers to angels, since there were no human beings yet in existence. The angels praised God at their creation when He brought them into existence, and when God created the heavens and earth the Bible says they shouted for joy. They were present when God created the universe, and they glorified and praised God, even as they did on the night Jesus was born.

In view of what the Bible says about these heavenly beings, a belief in angels is indispensable to the faith of Christians. Don't be intimidated by those in the world who doubt the teachings of the Bible. The Bible says, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God,” and the same thing may be said of those who do not believe in the existence of angels. There is nothing contrary to reason to believe in the existence of angels. Why should there not be such a high order of beings, if God so willed it? For the Christian the whole question turns on the weight to be attached to the words of our Lord. All agree that Christ taught the existence, reality and activity of angelic beings. On one occasion when asked about marriage in heaven, Jesus revealed that there will be no marriages in heaven, but all will be like the angels in heaven. The words of Jesus should never be questioned for He said, “The heavens and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” We have the guarantee of Christ's word for the existence of angels, and for Christians that settles the question.

Let me say another thing about these magnificent creatures who praised God for the birth of His only begotten Son. These beings command our admiration and love for declaring God's peace and goodwill to the people of earth. They said nothing about peace and goodwill to their fellow angels who were cast out of heaven. They praised God for sending a savior for mankind, not for angel-kind. The one born in Bethlehem did not come to save angels that sinned. The Bible clearly teaches that sometime in eternity there was an angelic rebellion in heaven. Indeed, it is a very mysterious truth, but a clearly revealed fact in the Bible. Scripture says they left their first estate, their first holy


condition. They disobeyed God, and God cast them out of heaven. They are now in chains of darkness reserved to be punished at the last day. Yet the unfallen angels are not envious or jealous of earth people. They praised God on that night long ago for sending Jesus to save the human race. They are glad for us even though there is no Savior for the fallen angels. But there is no envy or jealousy. They rejoice over the offer God makes to us who were made a little lower than them. . We must not worship these holy angels, but we can and should love them and hold them in high esteem for all the service they have rendered to us.

Furthermore, It is revealed in the Bible that ever since that angelic rebellion, which greatly disturbed and greatly diminished the inhabitants of heaven, God has had what is called in the Bible the “eternal purpose” of God(Ephesians 3:8-11).. It is said to be eternal because it originated in eternity before the heavens and earth came into existence. The word purpose means something one intends to do with a specific end in view. It was not to happen accidentally but by intelligent intent and design. .One aspect of that eternal purpose is expressly revealed to mankind in Ephesians 1:9-10, “Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to the good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth–in Him.” Albert Barnes' Commentary makes this comment on this passage about God's eternal purpose, “It is to found one glorious and eternal kingdom that shall comprehend all holy beings in heaven and all holy beings on earth–in Him” That has to be one of the greatest thoughts that has ever entered the human mind! God had an idea before He created the heavens and earth, and it was His intention to arrange a new united family in heaven, consisting of the unfallen angels in heaven and the deserving , redeemed people of earth. This purpose is just as much for angels as it is for the human race. When this purpose is accomplished, the unfallen angels in heaven will have as their fellow inhabitants the deserving people of earth who found God, walked with God and committed their lives to God while they lived on earth. Such are the deserving people whom He wants in heaven. It is my understanding of the Bible that this eternal purpose caused God to create the heavens and the earth, to create a race of people lower than angels, and use them to increase the population of heaven. This loving purpose may well be the ultimate cause of the universe. God has been gathering these deserving beings from the time of Adam and Eve to this present day. God used he birth, life and death of Christ to accomplish His eternal


purpose. . God is putting the human race through a severe test to determine who qualifies to live forever in the heavenly world, and the Bible, from the beginning to the end, is a record of the unfolding of this plan. I firmly believe the Bible teaches that God created the heavens and the earth. to accomplish His eternal purpose. This explains the statement that Christ was slain from the foundation of the world. The death of Christ was the key event to accomplish God's purpose. This purpose of God the Father brought the universe into existence, and it came to be by the intelligent design and by the creative power of Almighty God the Father, the first Person in the Godhead. The universe will remain until God has accomplished this purpose. which will also have an eternal impact on the third heaven, God's present dwelling place. I believe this eternal purpose of God gives a sufficient explanation for the existence of the universe. According to recent polls about 60 percent of Americans believe God created the heavens and earth, and about one third of the human race believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world I have said much about the angels in this message, but angels played an important part in the birth of Christ and the life of mankind in general..

Let us now turn to the birth of Christ and what the angels had to say about it. What possibly could have caused great numbers of the holy angels of heaven to make a special visit to this earth, in human form, just to announce a human birth?. They announced the birth of Christ, first to Israel and then to the entire human race. What was going on in this little town of Bethlehem that caused great numbers of angels to suddenly descend from heaven in human form, bathed in glorious light, just to announce the birth of a Jewish child?. Billions of children have been born and no angelic introduction was ever justified. One angel appeared in glorious attire to the lowly shepherds of Bethlehem with this announcement, “Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people, for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” The Greek when taken literally means, “I evangelize to you a great joy.” An angel was the first person to announce to the world that the Jewish Messiah and Savior of the world has been born. Immediately after that announcement, a multitude of angels appeared with that angel and said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace goodwill toward men.” A celestial army appeared to impress the message which the first angel had delivered. This great number of angels were sent by God to emphasize God's presence. They were exalting and praising God for bringing this birth about. Their praise, “Glory to God in the highest, ” means glory to God in the highest degree. The birth of Jesus glorifies God in the highest degree.

However, the angelic announcements did not reveal all that took place in the birth of Jesus. We must turn to the writings of the inspired apostles to comprehend what a wonder of wonders occurred when Jesus was born. The angels were praising God because the birth of Christ was an incarnation and not just a natural birth. This child
would become both human and divine, God in the flesh.. The body of Jesus was different and unlike any other physical body ever born into the world. He had a DNA that no other man ever had. We all have a wonderful physical body. Each one of us is absolutely unique. Each one has his or her own DNA. It appears that every human being's body is specially crafted by God. No one is exactly like you or me, and in this way He honors us. The DNA is every person's blueprints, and we will develop physically exactly according to those blueprints, even to our profile and color of our eyes. Each of us is one of a kind. . We all have different gifts and different possibilities. Billions of people have lived on earth, but no two people ever looked exactly alike. What a creative genius God is!. Each person's unique DNA is enough to prove Intelligent Design in the creation of the human race.

However no one had a body like Jesus or a DNA like His. The apostles have clearly revealed that the birth of Christ, among other things, was an incarnation. The incarnation of Christ means that He became God in the flesh. This child was to become both God and man, both human and Divine. The Bible says there was a mysterious being in heaven who was called the Word, and this Being was with God in the beginning and was God. Furthermore, God used this being to create the heavens and the earth and to create the human race. God sent this divine Being to the earth, and He inhabited the body of Jesus of Nazareth( John 1:1-14).. There was a mysterious union between the second person of the Godhead and Jesus of Nazareth. As a result, all the power of the Godhead dwelled in the physical body of Jesus. He performed great miracles that no one else ever performed. He lived a perfect life and then tasted death for man, offering His life to God as a sin offering for all mankind. The Bible says s that when Christ was dying on the cross, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.”. One name given to Jesus was “ Immanuel” which means, “God with us.” God visited this planet in the person of Jesus Christ. God tests the faith of every person by the birth, life and death of Christ. The world would do well not dispute or question what the Bible says about Jesus Christ. The Bible is the inspired word of God. I will say one more thing about all this angelic praise to God when Jesus was born. His birth was an important part of God's eternal purpose to increase the


population of heaven with deserving human beings. When Jesus was born the person came into the world who would make it possible for the entire human race to go to heaven. God always intended for the human race to live forever, that is, those who would be faithful believers in and worshipers of the one true God. When Adam and Eve sinned, they were forced to leave the garden of Eden, and an angel forbad them an entrance into it, lest Adam and Eve should eat of the tree of life and live forever. That proves God always intended for the human race to live forever, that is, deserving people. When Jesus was born, the person came into the world whom God gave the authority to gather together all saved and deserving people of the human race. He will determine who will go to heaven and who will not. He now sits at the right hand of God and has the gift of eternal life in His hands. The Bible says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. The Bible also says, “God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” All earth people can go to heaven if they are willing to become the kind of people God wants them to be. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father but by Me,” This is a wonderful offer to us human beings, whose bodies are deteriorating with sickness, disease and age. It is most wise to lay hold of the hope of eternal life by becoming a Christian and walk with God as long as we live. In the Christian age of the world, the only deserving people on earth are faithful Christians. The Bible says they are the chosen and elect people of God.

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