Tidings of Comfort and Joy
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Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Isaiah 40:1-5  (ID: 3471)

The message of comfort and joy that accompanied Christ’s birth is a message every believer is called to share. But what is the basis for the comfort we proclaim? As Alistair Begg explains, God will not leave us in our sinful rebellion. Rather, He speaks tenderly to us, pursuing and transforming all who are prepared to acknowledge their need of Him. God’s great glory is revealed as He overcomes every obstacle to redeem a people for Himself.


Sermon Transcript:

And I invite you to turn with me in the Bible to the prophecy of Isaiah and to the fortieth chapter. Isaiah chapter 40, and we’re going to read just the first five verses. Isaiah chapter 40 and reading from verse 1:

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
 and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
 that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
 double for all her sins.

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
 make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
 and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
 and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
 and all flesh shall see it together,
 for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Father, thank you for the wonder of these truths. And as we turn to the Bible now, help us both to speak and to listen, to understand, to believe, to trust, for your glory and for our salvation. For we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

Well, if you care to turn back to Isaiah chapter 40, you are at our text for this morning. You may come to this and say it’s a strange text for the Sunday after Christmas, and I hope by the time we’ve finished it will not appear to be so strange. It was a text that came to my mind just really quite out of the blue as I was thinking about this Sunday. And the title for our study this morning comes from the line of the refrain of one of the earliest carols that I don’t think we ever sing here, and that is

God rest ye merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas Day
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we had gone astray;
O tidings of comfort and joy, …
O tidings of comfort and joy.

And it is that phrase, “comfort and joy” or “tidings of comfort and joy,” that is our heading for this morning.

Now, the carol, as I say, has been around for a long time. In Charles Dickens’s day, which is the nineteenth century—Dickens, I think, died in about 1870—it was known even then. And those of you who are Dickens fans will know that that particular carol finds its way into Dickens’s novel A Christmas Carol. And it is mentioned because not everybody regarded it as their favorite carol. And in the book, it reads as follows: “At the first sound of ‘God [rest] you, merry gentlemen …’ Scrooge seized [a] ruler with such energy … that the singer fled in terror.”[1] So Scrooge, of course, was Scrooge. But he was not a fan of that.

Interestingly, Scrooge’s ear was not open to the message of the angel, a message of salvation, but his ear was open to the message of a ghost—Marley’s ghost. And the ghost in that novel informs him, “You will get no good news from me,” says Marley’s ghost: “I have none to give. … It comes from other regions, Ebenezer Scrooge, and is conveyed by other ministers.”[2] Well, I think that’s very helpful. We could preach from that entirely. If you will not listen to the message of salvation that comes via the angel, then you’re gonna have to listen to some other story, and you go find yourself a ghost. That might sound a little cold, but the fact is the alternatives are just as stark.

Now, long before the novel, long before the carol, an assignment was given by God to the messengers. And the assignment was very straightforward, and you have it there in the verses before you: “Comfort, comfort my people,” or “Comfort ye, comfort ye” in the King James Version and those of you who perhaps this Christmas have been enjoying again listening to the Messiah.

Now, the message of comfort is extended to those people of God who find themselves in the doldrums. The short background to it—because we come to the fortieth chapter with thirty-nine chapters preceding it—so, the context is really fairly straightforward. God’s people were in exile, they were isolated, they were oppressed, and they were despondent. And the reason they found themselves in that position was essentially because they had stopped listening to God. They had stopped listening to his servants, they had stopped trusting the word that they brought, and instead of obeying him, they decided that they would try it on their own. And instead of acknowledging him, they rebelled against him.

And in the middle of all of that, finding themselves in this predicament, they began to suggest that their problem did not lie in the fact that they were giving up on God, but “no, no, no,” they said, “God must be giving up on us.” And, you see, that’s the significance of verse 27, if your Bible is open: “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel…” What is it that the people are saying? They’re saying, “My way is hidden from the Lord, … my right is disregarded by my God.”

That’s what I find people saying to me all the time. They say, “You know, as far as I can make out, God has forgotten me. He doesn’t seem to pay attention to me at all.” It never once enters their heads, that it may actually be the other way around: that they are the deserters, that they are the rebels, that they are the ones who are interested in listening to everyone and to everything else except the true Word of the living God. Why do you say that? Why do you say God doesn’t hear you? Well, the story is, of course, that God has not given up on them. And that is the basis of the comfort.

Proclamation

Now, I have four points, and they’re these. First of all, proclamation. Proclamation. You will see in your text there, in verse 2, the verb that is used is the verb to cry. In the NIV, which I’ve spent most of my time since the King James Version in, the verb is proclaim: “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her…” “Proclaim to her.” Now, you see, what is happening here is God is not speaking, as it were, directly to the people. He is speaking through his messengers. And “Comfort, comfort” is a plural—hence, in the King James, “Comfort ye,” “all you, all you messengers.” All the messengers have the same responsibility to proclaim God’s good news.

Now, as you can see in verse 5, the real messenger is, of course, the Lord himself: “The mouth of the Lord has spoken.” So you have this strange duality, this wonderful reality that the message comes from God, ultimately the messenger is God, and yet God chooses to convey his message through human instruments. And you’ll see that all the way through this: in verse 3, “A voice cries”; in verse 6, “A voice cries”; in verse 9, it is the “herald of good news.”

Now, we recognize this, don’t we? That the real issue is the message that is conveyed, not the messengers. Even when we come to John the Baptist in a moment or two, when they ask John the Baptist, “Who are you? What is your significance?” he actually says, “I am [a] voice.”[3] “I am [a] voice.” Because the true messenger of God recognizes the privilege that he or she is given to convey the message, but it is the message itself that is significant.

Now, what is it that is to be conveyed that is the basis of the comfort? Well, you can see it here: “[Tell] her that her warfare,” or “her hard service,” “is ended,” or is “completed”; “that her iniquity,” or “her sin,” “is pardoned”; and “that she has received from the Lord’s hand” all the suffering that is necessary. In other words, what God is saying is “This exile wandering, this exile reality, this sense of failure and disappointment and despondency that has come about as a result of your attitude towards me,” God says, “that has gone on long enough.” Now, this is a prophetic word, and the reality of it still lies in the future. They had sinned, they had suffered for it, but that is not the end of the story.

The true messenger of God recognizes the privilege that he or she is given to convey the message. But it is the message itself that is significant.

Now, let me just pause on that for a minute and say: let’s personalize this. Because some of us will be here on the final Sunday of this year, and if the truth were told of us, it’s time for us to come home—that our lives have been marked by patterns that are not pleasing to God. We have found ourselves saying, “Perhaps God has disregarded me. Perhaps he’s taken me off his list, as it were.” And what is the message of God to the person who comes to that kind of conclusion? “I have sinned. I have suffered for it.” Yes, but it’s not the end of the story. Because as you read, for example, around this section in Isaiah, the message comes again and again. This is 43:25: God says, “I am he who blots out your [transgression] for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” In 44:22, same thing: “I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like [a] mist.”

Now, of course, how was this to work? How do we understand such a statement in these chapters in the 40s of Isaiah? The answer is we understand them in light of what is about to come in the fifty-third chapter. How is it that God would then forgive sin? How is it that God would no longer remember his people’s rebellion against him and so on? And that is because there was one who was coming, the one who has borne our sins and carried our sorrows,[4] the one who in himself is the basis of comfort and joy.

Well, we could spend much longer on that, but we won’t. That is essentially what is to be conveyed. What is to be proclaimed is just that.

How is it to be proclaimed? Well, look at how it’s to be proclaimed. There is to be a tenderness in the tone: “Comfort, comfort my people, says … God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.” What does it mean, to speak to a city? No, Jerusalem personifies the people of God. In the same way you could say, “I came to speak to Cleveland.” What do you mean, “to speak to Cleveland”? You stand in front of the Terminal Tower and say, “Hello, Cleveland”? No, we understand. So, “Comfort my people, speak tenderly to them, because it is important that they hear this message—especially because they’re in exile. Especially because they’re beginning to feel that they’re at the end of the line.”

Now, let’s not misunderstand this: “Comfort, comfort…” What does that make you feel like? I tell you what, immediately when I read that, “Comfort, comfort,” I said to myself, “There, there.” And then I said to myself, “What in the world is ‘There, there’?” You know, you fall and skin your knee, and your grandmother picks you up and says to you, “There, there.” What do you mean, “There, there”? In fact, you got “There, there,” and you’ve got a “My, my!” You’ve got “Well, well!” And we’ve got “Now, now!” And nobody really knows what all that stuff is about.

But “Comfort, comfort,” we can get that. Comfort! Discouraged by our enemies, ashamed of our rebellions, tempted to believe that we’ve passed the point of no return, and God sends his messengers out, and he says, “This is what I want you to say to my people: say… Comfort them, comfort them.” “O for the wonderful love he has promised, promised [to] you and [to] me!”[5] It’s an important thing to remember that God’s kindness does not lead us to indulgence but leads us to repentance. The fact that he is kind and when we deserve punishment he extends comfort should not cause the person who grasps it to go out and say, “Well then, that’s good. I should just do as bad as I possibly can. After all, he’s such a comforting God.” No. When the comfort of God is made available to us, it doesn’t create indulgence. It causes us to say sorry.

Well, there you have it. That’s the first point: proclamation. “Speak to them. Cry to them. Proclaim to them.”

Preparation

And then the next part is the task of preparation. Now, one of these messenger’s voices is now heard. Verse 3: “A voice cries,” one of the messengers, “‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord.’”

Now, it wasn’t so much that these people were in the wilderness as it was that their lives had actually become a barren landscape. You could almost say that they were themselves the wilderness, where the shoots and twigs and beauty of God’s endearing love towards them had now sort of begun to fade and fall. The messengers are now to speak, to prepare a way.

Now, you will notice—I hope you do—that the pathway is not a pathway for them to go out, but it is a pathway for God to come in: “In the wilderness of your lives, prepare the way for the Lord. Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” I think that’s very, very important. I think it would be very possible for us to misunderstand this entirely, and we say, “Oh, yes, I see what it is. We’re supposed to try and get out of our problem, try and get out of here, make a way to get out, cut through the jungle and the underbrush of all our rebellion and all our stupidity. And if we can hack our way out of it, perhaps we can make a few New Year’s resolutions and get on.” No, nothing at all. No! Make a way for God to come in. Make a way for God to come into the sadness, to the dryness, to the emptiness, yes, to the silence. To the silence. When will we hear from God?

That’s why I read at the beginning from Isaiah 35:

Say to those with fearful hearts,
 “Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come.”[6]

Now, you can imagine people reading that in their day and saying, “Well, what will it mean that our God will come? When will he come? How will he come? How will we know when he comes?” And so, as you read on through all the waiting years, through all the silence, the end of the Old Testament—four hundred years in between the end of the Old Testament and waiting for the arrival of the New—all those years, generations coming, generations going: silence. “Will there ever be another voice? Will God ever speak to us again? Will we ever hear from him?” That’s how they lived their lives, waiting and hoping.

And, you see, it is then and only then that, in coming to the text of the New Testament, we realize what a drama is contained, and in the story that Luke records for us, and how Zechariah, you will remember, and his wife… He’s old. His wife’s advanced. And Gabriel comes and says, you know, “You’re going to have a child.” You know that story, how Zechariah ends up having to write on a tablet for a while, and he was completely overwhelmed by it all. And the people, when the news got out to them, they wondered about what was being said, and they said, “Well, what will this child be? What will he be?” And the reason they said that is because clearly the hand of the Lord was with him.[7] This is, of course, John the Baptist.

“Prepare the way for God to come.” That was the message: “Prepare the way for God to come.” What does John the Baptist do? Exactly that. He prepares a way for God to come. It’s quite wonderful when you read the prophecy of his father, of Zechariah, about his son. I mean, everybody that has a son says, “I wonder what my child will be?” But Zechariah says,

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
 for he has visited and redeemed his people
and [he] has raised up [for us] a horn of salvation …
 in the house of his servant David.[8]

“He did all this, preparing us by the way of the prophets,”[9] and so on. And then, listen! Speaking to his own boy:

And you, child, [you] will be called the prophet of the Most High;
 for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
 in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God[10]

and so on. “That is what you’re going to do.”

You read on a couple of chapters, and that is exactly what he does. People came to him from all around the region, out into the place where he was preaching—not a very nice place, down in a miserable desert, about six hundred feet below sea level. Very, very hot. Very inclement. Not the kind of place where you would want to go for a service. And there he was. And what was he saying? “Prepare. God is coming.” And someone said, “Well, where is he?” And he said, “Well, if you look over here, you will see him. He is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”[11]

There is a certain respect in which we are all in the line of John the Baptist. If you are a Christian today, you are a messenger, whoever you are and wherever you are.

“Well,” you say, “what has that got to do with me?” Well, I’ll tell you what it’s got to do with you, and me too. There is a certain respect in which we are all in the line of John the Baptist. If you are a Christian today, you are a messenger, whoever you are and wherever you are. The significance of our task is not in the significance of our person but is in the wonder of our message: “Prepare to meet God.” That’s an old sign, you know, from fundamentalist America, where you’re driving on the freeway. You still see it in some of the Southern states: “Prepare to meet thy God.” It’s become a figure of fun. People say, “Oh, how strange is that? What an unbelievable thing for people to say.” No, no, it’s the right thing to say. It’s the role that he’s given to the messengers. Proclamation: comfort for those who don’t deserve it, and prepare to meet God.

Transformation

Well, in verse 4 we move from the part that the messengers can play to the part that only God can play. I had a hard time with verse 4. I’m not sure I’ve got ahold of it even now. What do we do with this? “Every valley shall be lifted up, … every mountain and hill be made low.”

Well, in other words, when God comes, he’s going to deal with the obstacles. At least we can say that, can’t we? What are the obstacles that stood in the way? Well, all the obstacles that were present then are present still today: the obstacles of unbelief; the obstacle of just natural skepticism; in our case, of relativism, of pluralism, “There’s no one way, there’s no one truth,” and so on. And the people of God were just tempted to succumb to the alternative explanations of their existence.

Why would we be surprised by that? Why would we wonder at the way in which they looked on the idols and they said, “You know, maybe we should try these idols”? Because remember verse 27: “Why has God stopped listening to us? Why is our way being disregarded by God?” “You’ve got it upside down. God has not stopped listening to you. God loves you. God comes to comfort you. No, you’re the ones that decided to carry these idols around, despite the fact that you know that they are absolutely useless to you. They know nothing. They understand nothing.”

You say, “Well, that’s so long ago and far away.” No, it is absolutely not. The Times, October 20, this year, I read an article about some lady who’s called an “internet starlet.” I don’t know how you would become one of them. It’s not something I think I need to worry about particularly. The lady’s name we can leave aside for now, but she’s a self-help guide, and she has millions and millions of followers on the internet who are looking for—guess what?—comfort and joy. Well, not everybody is a fan of this starlet. Another lady—whose name can stay out too, because it’s rather unpronounceable—from Paris, interacting with this, she said YouTube stars are “false prophets offering false wellbeing.” And then she said, “We have got rid of religion but created idols that are worse than anything that went before.”[12]

Now, you shouldn’t understand that she’s saying we’ve got rid of religion and she’s sorry about it. No, no. She’s happy about it. She wanted to get rid of religion. But now, she acknowledges, we’re even worse off with this new collection than we were with what was on offer before. Because having rejected that which is God’s manifestation of himself to us in Jesus, we don’t then believe nothing. We start to believe everything and anything.

Now, here’s the problem as a preacher: these challenges seem insurmountable. People say to me all the time, “Well, how are you going to argue against that? How are you going to be able to convince them? How are you going to be able to break down all these barriers?”—the disinterest of people, the decline of religion in America, the fact that people don’t want to listen to sermons, the fact that this and this and this and this. “How are you going to do this?” The answer is, I’m not! And neither is anyone else. Only God is able to break down the hindrances. Only God is the one who is able to make a straight and a level path.

Read history. Nineteenth-century, eighteenth-century England was a disaster zone. Who would ever be able to see a reformation and a revelation in that context? And then a baby is born, and another baby is born, and one is called Wesley, and one is called Whitefield. And the rest, as they say, is history. Who were these people? Well, we know they’re great now, but they weren’t regarded as great then. When Whitefield preached in North America in the eighteenth-century awakenings, people laughed at him in the street. When he rode his horse on the East Coast or down into Richmond, they shouted out, “Ho ho! The boy preacher! The boy preacher!” He wasn’t regarded as anything at all. We know how significant he was now. What was God doing? Well, he just raised up a messenger, and the messenger told the truth, and God did the rest.

Let me personalize it before I go to my final point: What about the hindrances in our own lives? What about the idea that we are unable personally to deal with the mountains, with the heights, with the heights of our pride, with the heights of our self-assertion, with the heights of our self-esteem? When I was waiting in the prompt care, the television was on, and there was a lady there, and she was explaining about yoga. And I listened for a little time and saw some of the exercises, which looked downright scary to me, but she was explaining that “the thing about yoga is, it is for absolutely everyone. Yoga is about just the love of everyone, no matter of your gender, no matter your size, no matter your intelligence, no matter your thing. And so, this is it. Come. Come to yoga.” And then the camera focuses in on her, and they said, “So what is it that makes this so special?” She said, “What makes this so special is that we’re able to say to ourselves, ‘I am wonderful. I am awesome. I am, I am.’”

Well, only one is able to say, “I am.”

“Go.”

“And what shall I say to the people,” said Moses, “when they ask me? What will I say to Pharaoh? Pharaoh is mighty. He’s a mountain that cannot be brought down. What shall I say to him?”

“Tell him that I am sent you.”[13]

You see, when we understand the “I am” who provides to us the comfort for which we long, then our own little “I am” is not irrelevant; it’s just diminished to the point of helpfulness.

“Yeah, but,” someone says, “well, I don’t have a problem with self-esteem. I have a problem with discouragement.” I was listening to somebody’s testimony the other day, and she said, “I tried my best to be a wife. I wanted so desperately to be a good wife. I thought I was a lousy wife. And my husband went off to work, and I used to cry. How can I be better? I’m so hopeless,” and so on. And she was in the valley—in the valley of failure, in the valley of despondency. How do you get out of that valley?

Well, you see, God gets us out of the valley. Because then she suddenly realized—somebody, a friend, told her, a messenger told her, “You know, you should read the Bible.” And as she read the Bible, she discovered that God’s people look to God to accomplish his purposes. God never actually suffers setbacks. He overcomes all the hindrances. He travels without difficulty, he always arrives without fail, and he’s always on time.

Revelation

And that brings us to our final point: the proclamation that is the task of the messenger; the preparation that is ultimately there in this great messenger who goes before Jesus; the transformation in the bringing down of the mountains, whatever they might be, the raising up of the valleys, whatever they might be; and in it all, “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”

What does that mean, “the glory of the Lord [will] be revealed”? What is God’s glory? God’s glory is essentially his self-disclosure. It is his making known all that he is, all that makes him the only true and living God—the revelation of the fact of his creation, the fact that he is a Redeemer, that he is merciful, that he is gracious, that he is holy, that he is abounding in love and in steadfast mercy and in faithfulness. All of these things! And the prophet says, “And this is what’s going to happen: God’s glory will be made known so that people will be able to see.” “All flesh.” It doesn’t matter where they come from.

God never actually suffers setbacks. He overcomes all the hindrances. He travels without difficulty, he always arrives without fail, and he’s always on time.

It’s always fascinating to me that, for example, the message of God’s unbelievable love to all, irrespective of gender and so on—which is the message of the lady, the yoga messenger—it’s a falsehood! Because there’s nothing there. It takes you into yourself. And if you have been in yourself lately, you know that there is no reason to jump up and down and have a party about how significant or how good you are. Even the children that are here this morning, they know that sometimes they go in their bedrooms and they say to themselves, “I am a naughty boy. I am a naughty boy. My father said I’m a naughty boy. I am a naughty boy.” Well, you see, God loves naughty boys. He loves naughty girls. If he didn’t, none of us could ever know him. If he only loved good boys and good girls and good moms and good dads, what chance would there be?

You know what the task, my task, is ultimately? The task of my colleagues? Is by the help of the Holy Spirit to convince the listener of God’s abounding love. Of God’s abounding love. Calvin in his Institutes says this: “No one will ever reverence God but he or she who is confident that God is favorable toward them.”[14] In other words, you are never going to run to God unless you are convinced that he is favorable toward you. How can he be favorable towards the rebellious, the exiles, the oppressed, the ones who are saying it’s God’s fault? Well, because of his glory being finally revealed in Jesus.

You see, it is in light of this that after all this time passes, once the exile is over, the silence descends, the darkness prevails. And then all of a sudden, on a routine night in the shepherds’ fields around Bethlehem, the angel appeared, and the glory of the Lord shone around, and they went off, and they said, “Let’s go into Bethlehem and see this thing that we’ve been told about.” And what did they discover? Well, they discovered that the hopes and the fears of all the years had been met in this Jesus.[15]

When John writes about it in his prologue, as we had in one of our readings the other night—Friday night, was it? No, Thursday it must have been. Yeah: “And we have beheld his glory.” “We have seen his glory.”[16] When the writer to the Hebrews puts it, he says that “he is the radiance of the glory of God … the exact imprint of his nature, … uphold[ing] the universe by the word of his power.”[17] In other words, Jesus is the full and definitive representation of God. All that may be known of God in human form is found in Jesus.

You say, “Well, let’s stop.” I’m going to stop now.

Comfort. Comfort. Where is this comfort? In whom is this comfort, the true answer to our deepest longings?

Joy. Joy. What is joy? Joy is peace dancing. “Therefore”—Romans 5:[1]—“therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God.”[18] Record dealt with. Sin pardoned. Coast clear. Relationship established. Well, let’s dance! “Joy is peace dancing, and peace is joy resting.”[19] “Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come with joy into Zion, and everlasting joy will be upon their heads.”[20] “Everlasting joy.”

The day after Christmas is a tough day, isn’t it? You know, you got your little thing, your socks, and, you know, and a book, and there we go. It’s Christmas. Merry Christmas, Alistair. Nice Christmas. Plus you have this as well, just to add to it. If this is where I’m getting joy from, I’m busted. If the source of comfort is simply in the relationships around me, no matter how meaningful they are, they are ephemeral. All around us will go the way of all flesh.

No, I don’t want joy that lasts for five minutes. I don’t want joy to get me through my teenage years. I don’t want to get joy that simply gets me to the edge of eternity. I want everlasting joy—the everlasting joy that is found in the one who speaks to his rebellious people and says, “My message to you is comfort. It is comfort.”

Oh, did you hear that, Scrooge? Oh, tidings of comfort and joy!

Well, Father, we thank you for the wonder of your love to us in Christ. We thank you that down through all these centuries, right up until today, the people have waited and wondered and hoped and longed, and as they opened, as it were, their Advent calendars through the years, until finally this boy, the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, would come, dressed really strangely, preaching out in the desert, and doing that which is the task of the messenger: to say, “Prepare. Prepare yourself, for the Lord is coming.” That’s why he had “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”[21] “Get yourself cleaned up,” he said. “God is coming.” And then the one who came was the only one who could grant that cleansing and that forgiveness, because he is Lord. He is Lord. Oh, we thank you, in Christ’s name. Amen.


[1] Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (1843), stave 1.

[2] Dickens, stave 1.

[3] John 1:23 (ESV).

[4] See Isaiah 53:4.

[5] Will L. Thompson, “Softly and Tenderly” (1880).

[6] Isaiah 35:4 (NIV).

[7] See Luke 1:5–24, 57–66.

[8] Luke 1:68–69 (ESV).

[9] Luke 1:70 (paraphrased).

[10] Luke 1:76–78 (ESV).

[11] John 1:29 (paraphrased).

[12] Marie-Rose Guarniéri, quoted in Adam Sage, “Internet Starlet Léna Mahfouf’s Self-Help Guide Has Literary Paris at Loss for Words,” The Times, October 20, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/internet-starlet-lena-mahfoufs-self-help-guide-has-literary-paris-at-loss-for-words-k757qmrcb.

[13] Exodus 3:10–14 (paraphrased).

[14] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion 3.3.2. Paraphrased.

[15] Phillips Brooks, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” (1867).

[16] John 1:14 (ESV).

[17] Hebrews 1:3 (ESV).

[18] Romans 5:1 (KJV).

[19] Commonly attributed to F. B. Meyer.

[20] Isaiah 51:11 (paraphrased).

[21] Mark 1:4 (ESV).

Copyright © 2021, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.