The Angel and the Virgin (Part 1 of 3)Luke 1:26-38
When the virgin conception of Jesus is challenged, how can we defend its truth? While we may be tempted to give pat answers or sidestep the Bible’s difficult parts, learn how to respond with reasoned thought instead, on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.
From the Sermon
Knowing the Creator
While each of the Gospels takes a different approach to detailing Jesus’ life, their purpose is the same: that, as John puts it, “you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). Those words come near the end of his Gospel and were intended to remind even his earliest readers that God graciously took the initiative to pursue His people in order that we might know and love Him.
Although Jesus was the Creator of the world He entered into, the world did not recognize Him. He came down from heaven in the form of a man, navigating city streets and moving among us so that we could live with Him in the light rather than have to live in darkness for all of eternity. Yet today, not unlike 2,000 years ago, many don’t understand the immensity of the gift of life in this world that Christ has given us, and therefore they forfeit the gift of eternal life that Christ was born to offer us, because they don’t know Him.
In his great treatise in the book of Romans, Paul wrote that God’s “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” In other words, as a result of God’s common grace, the creation displays enough evidence to at least bring us to the point of becoming theists. Because of this, men and women “are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
Even with that context, however, Paul goes on to say that although men and women “knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21). They knew of God’s existence but, suppressing that knowledge, they refused to know Him as Lord and Savior.
This is a humbling warning to us. If we should neglect to give God the honor and praise He is due, we risk forgetting the glorious ways He continues to pursue us, even today.
The word, truth, and story of Jesus have been made available in the Western world for hundreds of years—but still, so often men and women go about their weeks without any recognition of who Jesus truly is. Believers are not immune from living lives that, Sunday mornings or morning devotions apart, bear no mark of a knowledge of and relationship with Jesus as Lord and Savior. Imagine the difference it would make if we lived each moment calling to mind the truths that He is the light and the new life within us, that He makes it possible to live with God for all of eternity, that He is our great Lord and gentle Savior, and that He is surely worth knowing.
Christ the Wisdom and Power of God
18For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach2 to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,3 not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29so that no human being4 might boast in the presence of God. 30And because of him5 you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Nothing Can Satisfy
Behold, all is vanity.
Nothing can satisfy the entire man but the Lord's love and the Lord's own self. Some have tried to anchor in other harbors, but they have been driven out of such fatal refuges. Solomon, the wisest of men, was permitted to make experiments for us all, and to do for us what we should not attempt ourselves. Here is his testimony in his own words: "So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil.
Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun."1 "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."2 What! The whole of it vanity? Is there nothing in all the wealth of kings? Nothing in that vast territory reaching from the river to the sea? Nothing in those glorious palaces? Nothing in the riches of the forests of Lebanon? In all your music and dancing and wine and luxury is there nothing? "Nothing," he says, "but sorrow, and his work is a vexation." This was his verdict when he had experimented on the paths of apparent pleasure. To embrace the Lord Jesus, to rest in His love and be fully assured of union with Him—this is all in all.
Dear reader, you do not need to try these empty paths to find out whether they are better than the Christian's. If you roam the universe, you will not find another friend like Jesus; if you could have all the comforts of life but lost your Savior, you would be wretched; but if you win Christ, then you could rot in a dungeon and even there find peace. If you live in obscurity or die hungry, you will still be satisfied with favor and will be full of the goodness of the Lord.
1) Ecclesiastes 2:9-11
2) Ecclesiastes 1:2
Solomon Worships at Gibeon
1Solomon the son of David established himself in his kingdom, and the Lord his God was with him and made him exceedingly great.
2Solomon spoke to all Israel, to the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, to the judges, and to all the leaders in all Israel, the heads of fathers' houses. 3And Solomon, and all the assembly with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon, for the tent of meeting of God, which Moses the servant of the Lord had made in the wilderness, was there. 4(But David had brought up the ark of God from Kiriath-jearim to the place that David had prepared for it, for he had pitched a tent for it in Jerusalem.) 5Moreover, the bronze altar that Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, had made, was there before the tabernacle of the Lord. And Solomon and the assembly sought it1 out. 6And Solomon went up there to the bronze altar before the Lord, which was at the tent of meeting, and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it.
Solomon Prays for Wisdom
7In that night God appeared to Solomon, and said to him, “Ask what I shall give you.” 8And Solomon said to God, “You have shown great and steadfast love to David my father, and have made me king in his place. 9O Lord God, let your word to David my father be now fulfilled, for you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can govern this people of yours, which is so great?” 11God answered Solomon, “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked for possessions, wealth, honor, or the life of those who hate you, and have not even asked for long life, but have asked for wisdom and knowledge for yourself that you may govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12wisdom and knowledge are granted to you. I will also give you riches, possessions, and honor, such as none of the kings had who were before you, and none after you shall have the like.” 13So Solomon came from2 the high place at Gibeon, from before the tent of meeting, to Jerusalem. And he reigned over Israel.
Solomon Given Wealth
14Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen. He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem. 15And the king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stone, and he made cedar as plentiful as the sycamore of the Shephelah. 16And Solomon's import of horses was from Egypt and Kue, and the king's traders would buy them from Kue for a price. 17They imported a chariot from Egypt for 600 shekels3 of silver, and a horse for 150. Likewise through them these were exported to all the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Syria.
The Word of Life
1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—2the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—3that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4And we are writing these things so that our1 joy may be complete.
Walking in the Light
5This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Wait for the God of Salvation
1Woe is me! For I have become
as when the summer fruit has been gathered,
as when the grapes have been gleaned:
there is no cluster to eat,
no first-ripe fig that my soul desires.
2The godly has perished from the earth,
and there is no one upright among mankind;
they all lie in wait for blood,
and each hunts the other with a net.
3Their hands are on what is evil, to do it well;
the prince and the judge ask for a bribe,
and the great man utters the evil desire of his soul;
thus they weave it together.
4The best of them is like a brier,
the most upright of them a thorn hedge.
The day of your watchmen, of your punishment, has come;
now their confusion is at hand.
5Put no trust in a neighbor;
have no confidence in a friend;
guard the doors of your mouth
from her who lies in your arms;1
6for the son treats the father with contempt,
the daughter rises up against her mother,
the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
a man's enemies are the men of his own house.
7But as for me, I will look to the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation;
my God will hear me.
8Rejoice not over me, O my enemy;
when I fall, I shall rise;
when I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be a light to me.
9I will bear the indignation of the Lord
because I have sinned against him,
until he pleads my cause
and executes judgment for me.
He will bring me out to the light;
I shall look upon his vindication.
10Then my enemy will see,
and shame will cover her who said to me,
“Where is the Lord your God?”
My eyes will look upon her;
now she will be trampled down
like the mire of the streets.
11A day for the building of your walls!
In that day the boundary shall be far extended.
12In that day they2 will come to you,
from Assyria and the cities of Egypt,
and from Egypt to the River,
from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain.
13But the earth will be desolate
because of its inhabitants,
for the fruit of their deeds.
14Shepherd your people with your staff,
the flock of your inheritance,
who dwell alone in a forest
in the midst of a garden land;3
let them graze in Bashan and Gilead
as in the days of old.
15As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt,
I will show them4 marvelous things.
16The nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might;
they shall lay their hands on their mouths;
their ears shall be deaf;
17they shall lick the dust like a serpent,
like the crawling things of the earth;
they shall come trembling out of their strongholds;
they shall turn in dread to the Lord our God,
and they shall be in fear of you.
God's Steadfast Love and Compassion
18Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over transgression
for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in steadfast love.
19He will again have compassion on us;
he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our5 sins
into the depths of the sea.
20You will show faithfulness to Jacob
and steadfast love to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our fathers
from the days of old.
The Parable of the Dishonest Manager
1He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. 2And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ 3And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ 5So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6He said, ‘A hundred measures1 of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures2 of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world3 are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. 9And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth,4 so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.
10“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? 13No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
The Law and the Kingdom of God
14The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
16“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.5 17But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.
Divorce and Remarriage
18“Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.
The Rich Man and Lazarus
19“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side.6 The rich man also died and was buried, 23and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house—28for I have five brothers7—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”
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