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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Four Strait Gates (A Quote from the Puritan, Thomas Shepard) | Main | Book Review: God of Promise, by Michael Horton »

    The Advent of Jesus Christ

    Dear People of God,

    One famous Christmas song gleefully declares: "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" That of course means different things to different people. For the Christian, this "most wonderful time of the year" should be a time of celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and the fact that God truly dwelled in human flesh "with us". This time of year should also be lived in eager anticipation and joyful expectation as we await the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

    Our English word 'Advent' comes from a Latin word 'Adventus' that means "coming". Advent season has historically had a special place on the calendar because the purpose of this festive season is to remind the people of God of Christ's first advent or coming in a manger in Bethlehem who came to live and die for the sins of his people. The Advent season has historically been the time when we celebrate Christ's first coming.

    Something that can be forgotten however is the fact that the Advent Season is not only about the glorious birth of our Savior, but it is also a season of celebration to remind the people of God of a second advent where the resurrected-ascended-glorified Christ will return to fully manifest his rule and dominion over heaven and earth, and to glorify his "Maranatha people"- -those who are eagerly awaiting his return, who cry out: "Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus in this present evil age!

    Each day of the year, Christians should live as if it was Advent Season. Christians should day by day live expectantly awaiting Christ's Second Coming (parousia- Gk.), living in light of the gospel of the First Advent of Christ, and hoping each day for gospel of the Second Advent and full revelation of the New Heavens and the New Earth in Christ!

    This can be perhaps the most wonderful time of the year because it can cause people to be pregnant with expectation and hope, but if we have the eschatological perspective of the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 4 in our minds, we can experience this love, hope and joyful expectation each day of the year!

    During this season I have been reflecting on 1 Peter 4:7-11 as an excellent Advent scripture text to keep in the forefront of our minds and imaginations as those united to Christ Jesus (and particularly in light of our recent Galatians series). This scripture has helped me to be reminded of the fact that every day can be like the Advent Season!

    The Apostle Peter writes:
    ESV 1 Peter 4:7-11: The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies- in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

    The Apostle Peter reminds us that because we live as a Church at the end of the eschatological age awaiting eagerly the Second Advent of Christ (“the end of all things is at hand”, v. 7a), Christians should be those who are self-controlled and sober-minded in order to prayerfully focus our attention on the Second Advent of Christ that is always at hand (v. 7b).

    In light of this end being near (including the end of this present evil age of sin and misery, and all of our various iindividual sufferings God lovingly calls us to in Christ), we are to keep loving one another earnestly because love covers a multitude of sins (v. 8b). That is, love covers all of the sins that we continue to struggle with as those united to Jesus Christ by faith (v. 8). The true love of Christ covers the sins that we continue to see in ourselves, as well as in other brothers and sisters.

    In other words, we should live lovingly "others-centered" as we serve and love them resisting our own sinful tendency toward selfishness and self-centeredness!

    The Apostle Peter goes on to remind us that in light of the Second Advent of Christ to be those who show their love in service to one another! Act as if you are gifted by God- - because you are - -and in light of your giftedness, lovingly serve the brethren with the strength that God supplies, without grumbling (v. 9), complaining, biting and devouring each other (cf. Gal. 5:13-16).

    We should ask ourselves daily: “How are we doing individually before God as “stewards of God’s manifold or varied grace?” (v. 10). The question reminds us that we are recipients in Jesus Christ of his grace and gifts and that we are therefore never without what we need the most- -God's grace!

    Peter says that God will be glorified through our loving service in Jesus Christ! Peter closes with a grand and eloquent doxology that we are to remember: Christ is the One we are ultimately glorifying and serving when we live like this by His grace and strength (v. 11c).

    Remember at this time of Advent: Creation shows that God is above us; the Law shows that God is against us; the manger shows us God with us! And if God is with us, he is for us in Jesus Christ!

    Rejoice people of God in your Savior!

    Each day can be like Advent season as the people of God if you keep the right eschatological focus and expectation on Jesus Christ seated at God's right hand!

    Merry Christmas! And may this be the most wonderful time of the year for you...and may it continue each day throughout the year!

    In Christ,
    Pastor Biggs

    Posted by Charles Biggs on December 16, 2006 11:08 AM

    Comments

    Pastor Biggs,

    Great encouragement and thanks!

    I was gathered around a table with 6 other Ministers the other day to happily discover we had been reading Colossians; yet none knew the other had been led to read it too. The discussion of the Advent came up to which we all focused on a particular verse from Chapter three:

    Col 3:4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

    I was wonderfully filled with a sense of AWE experiencing the Grace and Mercy and as the outcome, Peace from God by that discussion.

    Our conversation then turned to the topic of DEATH.

    Just recently I have had to focus deliberately on Death seeing there have been six deaths I have experienced recently. Three of them have generated hopelessness in the broader community where I live while three of them have increased the sense of AWE in God and His Grace, Mercy and Peace. It is in that as far as I know personally, only three of those recent deaths were not in vain while the other three were deaths suffered in vain.

    The three that were suffered in vain, I believe, were violent deaths caused by Police shooting the person.

    One was a mentally disoriented woman with issues with everyone and who thought she could take on the S.W.A.T. and survive after pointing a flare gun at them in a moment of time and was blasted by their return fire.

    The second death was that of a 16 year old boy who thought he could get high on drugs that deadly day and then not comply with a lawful order of a Police officer and then lunge at the Officer with a knife and nothing would happen. He was carried away as well.

    And the final death was done to a 51 year old man whose life went from bad to worse and for whatever reason decided to shoot it out with Police.

    Now on the other hand the other three deaths were all of Christians, who, one died by a tragic traffic accident, [she was 19, a virgin girl soon to be married]; another was a 34 year old mother leaving two teenagers; and the third was a 65 year old grandfather. All three died by one circumstance or another, particular and unique. But all died in Christ and all will, as the Apostle Paul asserts there in Colossians 3:4 APPEAR WITH HIM IN GLORY WHEN THE SECOND ADVENT OCCURS.

    Now, I cannot say with certainty of the three deaths in vain, seeing what is known about them is they were not "connected" to any "Body of Believers" in this civil realm. But with certainty I cannot say the others will not appear with Him when He comes back in Glory!

    To those first three, there is a sorrow that lingers. With the other three, the sorrow and grief fades to a Holy Anticipation of seeing them again when the Lord will come in Glory. I, either here then or also coming with Him when He appears in Glory and by virtue of His Appearing, will have fellowship with them in Christ as Christ comes to give that final temporal grant of Grace, Mercy and Peace to those conjoined to Him for eternity.

    I, with those other three and countless others, you, will APPEAR WITH HIM and live forever in this Wonderful "first fruits" sense of AWE we found ourselves around that table the other day talking about and experiencing, those seven of us Ministers of Reconciliation as we discussed Colossians 3:4.

    Thanks again for your Words and I join with you by these words in expressing my heartfelt expression of Thanks to Our Heavenly Father during this season of celebration of the Greatest LIVING Birth of His Son by the Virgin woman He brought to pass by the Holy Ghost!

    Col 3:3-4: For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.


    Michael

    Pastor Biggs,

    Thanks for that great reminder and exhoration. I've highlighted this article at my blog:

    www.truthintheinnermost.blogspot.com

    Blessing to you and your family this Advent season.

    Quincy

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