Monday, December 18, 2006

Glory to God in the highest!

"Glory to God in the highest..." (Luke 2:14) A Christmas Sermon Outline
We live in a society that lives to consume. We buy therefore we are. This is never more evident that at "Christmas Time". The shops do a large percentage of their annual business during the festive season. Everything possible is done to encourage the consumer to buy, buy, buy.
A consumerist society is a selfish one. Life is centred around the wants and desires of the customer. Woe betide the lowly shop assistant who has to tell the almighty consumer, "Sorry, you can't have what you want, we're out of stock."
When people from such a society begin to see that there must be more to life than this, they get into "spirituality". But they do so as consumers who want their needs satisfied rather than as pentient worshippers who want to meet with God on his terms.
The acid test of true religion is this: Does it make the angels sing "Glory to God in the highest!" This cuts through the self-centeredness of the contemporary spiritual quest. True faith is all about the glory of God.
I. Glory to God in the highest because Christ the Lord is born
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12.)
i. Glory to God for good news
In a word full of trouble and grief, here is a message to gladden our hearts
ii. Glory to God for Christ is born
God has kept his promises and fulfilled the ancient prophecies. At last, the long-awaited Messiah has been born in the City of David.
iii. Glory to God for the Lord is born
What a statement, kurios, the LORD God has been born! What a marvel of grace and love. The angels cry our "Glory to God in the highest" because God the Lord came to the lowest as Man. Here in the birth of this baby, more of the glory of God is revealed than ever before. The Trinity, only hinted at in the OT is now clearly revealed as the Father sent his Son to be born of a virgin by the Holy Spirit.
II. Glory to God in the highest because the Saviour has come
For there is born to you...a Saviour
i. We need to be saved
The angel proclaimed the good news of salvation to shepherds. These were the vagabonds of the ancient world. They had very bad reputation. They needed a Saviour. So do we, for "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" and the "wages of sin is death". We cannot come to God as consumers with something to offer him. He does not meet us on out terms, but on his, through the Saviour. This is not about our quest for self-fulfilment, but about God's desire to glorify his love by saving us.
ii. We need a perfect Saviour
A sinner cannot save sinners. Our Saviour has to be one of us - human and other than us - holy. The baby Jesus was the Holy One (1:35). As he grew up, he committed no sin. Even Pilate had to admit "I have found no fault in this man".
iii. We need a Saviour who has died in our place
Jesus did that when he was nailed to the cross to atone for sin and bring us forgiveness. Because he has died, like the dying thief, we can be with him in paradise if we trust in him.
iv. We need a Saviour who has conquered death
Luke 23 is not final chapter of the Gospel - Luke 24 is. As the angels said to the women who visited Jesus' empty tomb, "He is not here but is risen!" (24:6).
Thine be the glory risen conquering Son,
endless is the victory Thou o'er death hast won.
The babe of Bethlehem was born to deal with sin and death once and for all. Glory to God alone for sending Christ the Lord to save us.
III. Glory to God in the highest because he is worth it!
The good news of Jesus calls us to God-centeredness. What grabbed the angel's attention and made a multitude of heavenly beings sing was the incarnation of God. "Christmas" is all about what God has done. In our pampered, consumerist society we are told by advertisers, to buy their products "Because you're worth it!". The Christ-event draws our gaze to the glory of God. We have forgotten that our chief end is not to shop till we drop, but to Glorify God and enjoy him for ever. He is worth it!
Have you see a glimpse of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ? Have you come to him as a sinner needing to be put right with God? If so you will sing with the angels, "Glory to God in the highest!"
Christian, reflecting on the birth of Jesus should shock you out of a self-centred, consumerist mentality. Are you in the Christian life for what you can get out of it, or is your chief delight in living for the glory of God? Do you come to Church to see what you can get out of the service, or to magnify your God and Saviour?
Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us,
But to your name give glory.
(Psalm 115:1)
Preached to Penknap Providence Church on Sunday 10th December

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