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Westminster Shorter Catechism – Lord’s Day 12

Westminster Shorter Catechism – Lord’s Day 12

Q & A 21
Q Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?
A The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ,1 who, being the eternal Son of God,2 became man,3 and so was, and continues to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, forever.4

Q & A 22
Q How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?
A Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to himself a true body, and a reasonable soul,5 being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, and born of her,6 yet without sin.*7

*1 John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5-6.
*2 Psalm 2:7; Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5; John 1:18.
*3 Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:23; John 1:14; Galatians 4:4.
*4 Acts 1:11; Hebrews 7:24-25.
*5 Philippians 2:7; Hebrews 2:14, 17
*6 Luke 1:27, 31, 35.
*7 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 7:26; 1 John 3:5.


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Our King In A Crib (via Scotty Smith)

Scotty Smith provides a Christmas Eve prayer, that is true on Christmas Day and every other day, as well.

He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was room in the inn available for them. Luke 2:1-7 (NIV)

Lord Jesus, whether or not you entered our world anywhere near our December 25th is irrelevant. What matters is that you actually came from eternity into time and space—not as a metaphor, myth, or legend, but as our incarnate Creator, perfect Savior, and glorious King.
Any other king would’ve come with great fanfare and a royal entourage, seeking to impress. But you came into our world in utter humility and profound weakness, seeking to save. Every other king was once a baby. You’re the only king who reversed the order and became a baby.
No room in the inn” wasn’t an insult to you. It was your choice, your way—the essence of the gospel. After 33 years of life, it is you who made room for the cross. We bow in awe.
Indeed, you didn’t consider your equality with God something to be selfishly hoarded. Rather, you made yourself “nothing.” You emptied yourself by becoming one of us—fully man, yet never ceasing to be God.
As the Second Adam, you fulfilled the law for us. As the Servant of the Lord, you died in our place. As the Grave Robber, you rose for our justification. As our Glorious Bridegroom, you’re coming back for us. Hallelujah… we cry, over and over and over.
On this Christmas Eve, we worship you for coming to us, Jesus, and giving yourself for us. Thank you for saving us from our sins and selves. Thank you for ruling the world with your truth and grace, this very moment. Thank you for committing to make all things new and wiping all tears away. So very Amen we pray, in your great and gracious name.

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A Microscopic Saviour (via Aaron Wilson)

Aaron Wilson reflects on the idea that if the incarnation of God in the birth of Jesus is an amazing idea, then the implication that God was incarnate in a collection of cells some nine months earlier is mind-boggling.

Nine months before Christmas morning, Jesus went from ruling the world in heaven with His Father and the Holy Spirit, to enter into the smallest, most dependent, most microscopic form of human life.
The God who authored a universe that can’t be measured, humbled Himself into a form that can’t be seen.
It’s a staggering thought.
The God who authored a universe that can’t be measured, humbled Himself into a form that can’t be seen.Even more mind-boggling is the fact that there was a time when the incarnate spirit of Jesus was in an embryonic human form that hadn’t yet grown eyes, fingers, a brain, or even a spinal cord.
Even Christ’s holy blood cells that would later be shed to save humanity, first had to be formed by a yolk sac inside of Mary’s womb.
In the months leading up to Christmas, Jesus—who formed the world and invented human reproduction—was Himself being formed inside one of His creations through the very blueprints He had established for human development.

HE HOLDS ALL THINGS TOGETHER
As you’re pondering these truths, consider Colossians 1:16-17 as it speaks of Jesus:
“For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.”
Doesn’t this truth make the incarnation all the more amazing? For a moment in time, the entire universe was being held together in the form of a microscopic, two-celled human embryo named Jesus.

Read the whole post at Facts And Trends.


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Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 14

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 14

Q & A 46
Q What was the estate of Christ’s humiliation?
A The estate of Christ’s humiliation was that low condition, wherein he for our sakes, emptying himself of his glory, took upon him the form of a servant, in his conception and birth, life, death, and after his death, until his resurrection.*1

Q & A 47
Q How did Christ humble himself in his conception and birth?
A Christ humbled himself in his conception and birth, in that, being from all eternity the Son of God, in the bosom of the Father, he was pleased in the fulness of time to become the son of man, made of a woman of low estate, and to be born of her; with various circumstances of more than ordinary abasement.*2

Q & A 48
Q How did Christ humble himself in his life?
A Christ humbled himself in his life, by subjecting himself to the law,3 which he perfectly fulfilled;4 and by conflicting with the indignities of the world,5 temptations of Satan,6 and infirmities in his flesh, whether common to the nature of man, or particularly accompanying that his low condition.*7

Q & A 49
Q How did Christ humble himself in his death?
A Christ humbled himself in his death, in that having been betrayed by Judas,8 forsaken by his disciples,9 scorned and rejected by the world,10 condemned by Pilate, and tormented by his persecutors;11 having also conflicted with the terrors of death, and the powers of darkness, felt and borne the weight of God’s wrath,12 he laid down his life an offering for sin,13 enduring the painful, shameful, and cursed death of the cross.*14

Q & A 50
Q Wherein consisted Christ’s humiliation after his death?
A Christ’s humiliation after his death consisted in his being buried,15 and continuing in the state of the dead, and under the power of death till the third day;16 which hath been otherwise expressed in these words, He descended into hell.

*1 Philippians 2:6-8; Luke 1:31; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Acts 2:24.
*2 John 1:14, 18; Galatians 4:4; Luke 2:7.
*3 Galatians 4:4.
*4 Matthew 5:17; Romans 5:19.
*5 Psalm 22:6; Hebrews 12:2-3.
*6 Matthew 4:1-12; Luke 4:13.
*7 Hebrews 2:17-18; Hebrews 4:15; Isaiah 52:13-14.
*8 Matthew 27:4.
*9 Matthew 26:56.
*10 Isaiah 53:2-3.
*11 Matthew 27:26-50; John 19:34.
*12 Luke 22:44; Matthew 27:46.
*13 Isaiah 53:10.
*14 Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 12:2; Galatians 3:13.
*15 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.
*16 Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:24-27, 31; Romans 6:9; Matthew 12:40.


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Westminster Shorter Catechism – Lord’s Day 12

Westminster Shorter Catechism – Lord’s Day 12

Q & A 21
Q Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?
A The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ,1 who, being the eternal Son of God,2 became man,3 and so was, and continues to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, forever.4

Q & A 22
Q How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?
A Christ, the Son of God, became man, by taking to himself a true body, and a reasonable soul,5 being conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the womb of the virgin Mary, and born of her,6 yet without sin.*7

*1 John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5-6.
*2 Psalm 2:7; Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5; John 1:18.
*3 Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:23; John 1:14; Galatians 4:4.
*4 Acts 1:11; Hebrews 7:24-25.
*5 Philippians 2:7; Hebrews 2:14, 17
*6 Luke 1:27, 31, 35.
*7 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; Hebrews 7:26; 1 John 3:5.


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Remember Who Put Christ In Christmas

Somewhere or other I read/heard the contrast between: the annual polite requests-appeals-strident demands that maintain the effort to keep Christ in Christmas, or to remember that Jesus is the reason for the season, or to correct someone who wishes you season’s greetings or happy holidays that they should be saying merry Christmas; and the fact that it’s not up to us to keep Christ in Christmas because we didn’t put him there in the first place.
God did that.
God entered creation in the incarnation when nobody really wanted Him to come.
It’s helpful to remember that we didn’t want Jesus either until God placed His Spirit in our hearts.
The (intentional or accidental) sidelining of Jesus from celebrations of His own birth is an annual metaphor of the circumstances of His first coming.
He won’t receive the recognition or welcome He deserves until His second coming.
And that second coming will also depend on God, not us.
So, whatever it is Christians observe about attitudes to Jesus this time of year underlines the spiritual reality we face until our Lord’s return.
God became incarnate and entered creation with humility, grace and love.
Our lives are meant to be a reflection of the incarnated love that comes to those who aren’t expecting it.


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2014 Mount Gambier City Carols Devotion

As part of the printed booklet of song words for the Mount Gambier City Blue Lake Carols a devotion is included on behalf of the local Minister’s Association.
I wrote this year’s one.
Here it is:

The first person who celebrated the birth of Jesus in song was his own mother. Luke’s Gospel retells a story that Christians believe was told to Luke by Mary herself. After all, she was the only one there!
That first celebration was not only an anticipation of the birth that would take place nine months later near a manger in Bethlehem. Mary composed and sang a song of praise that expressed faith and joy in God’s love and saving power. Decades later the words of that song were still etched in Mary’s mind, and they still declared the hope that filled her heart.
Before their births, all parents have great hopes for our children as we dream of what their lives may be. Mary’s song was not just a romantic aspiration, however. She was not shut away from the realities of life. Her people were under foreign rule. She was engaged to be married to an honourable man who would struggle to understand her pregnancy. There was the danger that she would become a marginalised person among a marginalised people.
Yet she hears the words and believes that more than the blessing of motherhood, there is the blessing of a merciful God who would fulfil a promise of blessing for all the nations. God had long promised to bring the marginalised and powerless to himself. And her son, Jesus, would be the way he would do it.
The words of the carols we sing, the observance of Christmas on December 25; these speak of a destiny that is so wonderful that amidst the cares and limitations of life we can scarcely believe they are for us. We might feel that these words mock us with hope, so great is their promise in contrast to our present experience.
Years later Mary would feel the greatest pain a parent can experience, watching the cruel death of her son. Yet her song was not in vain. The resurrection demonstrated the power of God’s love over death.
The great truth of the carols we sing tonight and through the Christmas season is not that we can find God, but that God in his power, love and mercy has come to find us in the person of Jesus Christ.
The song that started in his mother’s throat rings down through the ages and people of faith and hope continue to sing his praise.