Summary: Why is the birth of Jesus significant and what does it mean to us today. Is there a connection between the world and world events during his first coming and his imminent return?
Grace Community Church
Watch this sermon on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/LiIFk7xq1pM
In our journey through Luke, we finally come to the birth of Christ. Just in time for the celebration of Christmas. In typical Lukean style, he packs volumes of information in just a few verses. The historical references are critical for understanding this text, but also remind us of our own preparation as we await his return. This is critical to understand because when the church is raptured, it will be with the same kind of urgency and violence as a child being born. And just as when Jesus incarnationally arrived as the Christ child, God will have moved world powers, there will be prophetic fulfillment, and people will find themselves unprepared.
So this morning, I want to take you through the arrival of Christ and provide some comparisons between his first and second coming, specifically the rapture of the church. A couple of months ago, we held a Q&A forum during services.
One of the questions was regarding the Rapture. It occurred to me that the Church teaches little today about the Rapture of the Church and the Second Coming of Christ. Many NAR heresies are centralized around Kingdom Theology. In brief, the idea that the Church is the establishment of the Kingdom of God here on earth. The Church just needs to take its authority.
Since believers are indwelt by the same Holy Spirit that indwelt Jesus, we have all authority in heaven and on the earth; we have the power to believe for and speak into existence things that are not, and thus we can bring about the Kingdom Age. Proponents of Kingdom Now teaching also don’t believe in the rapture, which is explained away as a feeling of rapture or excitement when the Lord returns to receive the kingdom from our hands. This is popular among NAR Heresies like Bethel Redding.
Let me say this and in a few minutes, we’ll get more into the Rapture. Believers have tremendous hope because of our faith in Jesus Christ. A day is coming soon when God is going to pour out his final judgment on an unbelieving world. God’s promise to us is that he will remove his bride (the Church) before the 7-year tribulation. The Bible is full of references and typologies to God’s merciful removal of the faithful before his wrath. The very imagery of the church being a bride awaiting her groom is a typology of the Rapture. I encourage you to watch the documentary “Before the Wrath.”
Before we go any further in that let us consider the first arrival of Christ:
I. A World Prepared
It is sad to say that the world generally has rejected Christ. Sure most enjoy the nostalgia of the Christmas story, but Christmas has become so blurred and confused with paganism and personal indulgences that the meaning of the birth of Christ has become obscured. The world celebrates Jesus’ birth for all the wrong reasons: self-indulgence, materialism, partying, and so on. Although the people of the world were not interested and unaware of his coming, the world setting was completely prepared.
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. Luke 2:1–3 ESV
The Roman registration required every man in Israel to return to his ancestral home. The grand purpose of all of this was to establish the child’s credentials. In order to fulfill the promise of salvation, Jesus had to be a descendant of King David (Rom 1:3; 2 Tim 2:8). But he also had to be born in Bethlehem: Micah 2:5 ESV
Therefore you will have none to cast the line by lot in the assembly of the Lord.
How ironic that God used Caesar to get him there! Without even knowing it, Caesar Augustus was being moved by God to help fulfill God’s perfect plan. “In those days” refers back to Luke’s introduction in Luke 1:5 when Luke directs us to the rule of Herod over Israel. Herod was appointed kind of Israel by Caesar Augustus. The Jews hated Herod, they hated Roman occupation, and they hated Roman taxation.
Unknowingly, God used Caesar to prepare the world to facilitate the spread of the Gospel. As I mentioned in my message, “In Those Days,” the Roman Rule gave the world the common language (Koine Greek), the Roman system of roads, and Pax Romana (the peace of Rome). And that sets the scene perfectly to put Joseph, a descendant of David, and his betrothed wife Mary, pregnant with the Christ child to be in Bethlehem for the fulfillment of Micah 5:2. All by the decree from a pagan, godless monarch who had no idea of this prophecy. God was controlling the world events that brought Christ into this world.