Summary: The Incarnation Tells Us: God Promises to be With Us
The Incarnation Tells Us:
God Promises to be With Us
We are in the third week of a four week series on the “What the incarnation tells us.” The first week we saw that the incarnation tells us that God is on a mission: God is radically committed to winning people to himself. Last week we saw that the incarnation tells us that God works behind ordinary events to fulfill his purposes, including his purposes for our lives. This week we see that the incarnation tells us God’s presence is with us and it is his presence that gives us life.
1. God is with us by rescuing us from our sin. (vs. 19-21)
God the Father gives God the Son the name Jesus because it describes what he does; he saves his people from their sins. Jesus saves us, which means to rescue, to liberate, to keep from harm, and to heal. The picture is one of all humanity being in danger because of our sin and the consequences of living in a sinful and fallen world. In Scripture, sin is described as a fatal virus that destroys us spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Outside of Jesus, sin owns us, it is our master, we are addicted to it and we are led to our death all the while we willfully choose to sin because we love sin, we relish in sin, and we desire to sin. The incarnation tells us that it was God’s decision to come to save us from our sin. The incarnation is a message of hope for our struggle against sin and a message of hope for those we know who are addicted to sin.
You may be thinking, ‘David you do not know what I struggle with, you do not know how dark my heart is and how bound up in sin I am.’ Let me show you a promise that gives me hope in my own struggle with sin that I reflect on all the time. “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace (Rom 6:11-14).” The reason we can fight against sin and overcome it is the promise of God himself that it will not master us. Let’s see how powerful the promises of God are, look at verse eighteen. God the Spirit took a barren womb and created life. Now look at verse twenty-two, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord spoke by the prophet.” That tells us that the promise of God, which came though the prophet Micah, was so pregnant with life that it demanded to be fulfilled. Romans 6:14 is so pregnant with life for you and for me that it demands to be fulfilled. So we hold on to that promise and fight against sin believing that the power of the Spirit energizes me as I fight.
2. God is with us by His presence (vs. 22-23)
Immanuel is God with us. To understand the significance of this we need to go back to creation. God created Adam and Eve and walked with them in the garden having relationship with them. They experienced ‘God with us’ but because of their sin they were banned from the garden but more importantly they were banned from the presence of God. Then Israel would put the tabernacle in the middle of the camp to remind them that God was with them. The tabernacle was the dwelling place in which God met with his people. In the person of Jesus, God’s presence, the very glory of God that manifested as his presence in the tabernacle, is directly with his people. In the incarnation the glory of God literally tabernacled with us. Now we look forward when history will be consummated in the new heaven and new earth and God will dwell with us, unencumbered by sin for all eternity. But he has not left us alone in the mean time, he has promised to be with us until the end of the age. Jesus still dwells among us now when we gather. Not just in formal settings like this, not just in Life Groups but anytime followers of Christ gather. But he is also with each one of us. Matthew starts his gospel out with God dwelling with us and ends his gospel with the promise that he will be with us until the end of the age. He is with each one of us by his Spirit. We see that God gave the necessary resources to his followers when he empowered them with the Spirit in Acts 2. As you read though the book of Acts, you see God with us in the power of the Spirit in mission. The Spirit gave his followers effectiveness in witness, gave them sensitivity to his voice, and gave them a burden for those who faced a Christless eternity. We need to relearn the art of being the church. We need to see ourselves as Jesus saw himself, as one sent to seek and save the lost, as messengers of the kingdom. Just as Jesus left his world to enter ours to show us the Father, he has sent us to enter our world to show others the Father. We can so protect ourselves against contamination of the world that we lose contact with the world and hide our light. The church can become so isolated it is a community in quarantine. Even a bright light covered by an opaque box is still darkness. Instead of submersing ourselves in the culture around us to transform it, we have created a separate subculture with Christian dialect, Christian music, and Christian television. We cannot change the culture from the outside; we can only change it from the inside. We must submerge ourselves in our community to be salt and light to those who face a Christless eternity.