Saturday, December 24, 2016

Reason for the Season Part II

Who is this Baby and What is a Savior?
 Luke 2:1-11
What does the World think of Jesus? More specifically what does the world, that lives in the USA, think of Jesus?
Just last year a study was done by the Barna group showing that over 90% of Americans believe Jesus was a real person.[i]

That’s nice. But, with each generation it’s a little bit less. The youngest generation tested, the Millennials, about 35 and under, only 87% think he was real. Who knows how low that will go in the next generation, those who are just children right now.
But even though that’s a pretty high number, less than 60% (56) believe Jesus is God or divine. Guess where the millennials stand. Less than 50%! Now if Jesus isn’t God, our faith is as pointless as if he didn’t exist at all!
But even though slightly over 50% of all America thinks he is god, LESS than 50% think he was sinless! In other words, most people think Jesus sinned like everyone else! There is one lie from the devil that has really taken hold in our culture! If Jesus sinned, he could not be our sacrifice or our savior.

But in spite of that low number – When asked if they had made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that affected their lives – are you ready? – 62% said yes! Some of these people don’t even think Jesus is God, or know he was sinless! It’s hard to believe 62% of the USA is truly saved.
There are people all over the USA today, sitting in churches this morning, who think they have made a commitment to Jesus Christ, but He never made a commitment to them!
   But one final point. Among those who say they have made a commitment to Jesus Christ - people who say they’re Christians - how many believe they will go to heaven because they confessed their sins to Christ, believed in and accepted Him as their savior? 63%. Basically 2 out of three. Not 2/3 Americans, but 2/3 of those who say they believe in Jesus.
Over 30% of people who claim they believe in Christ, who say they made a
commitment to Him – don’t understand HOW to be saved!
20% say its because they tried to keep the 10 commandments or because they were basically good, OR because God loves everybody and won’t let anyone go to Hell!
IN one sense this is Good news, It means there are lots of folks who need to hear the gospel! But its also bad news. After 300 years of gospel preaching in America only 60% call themselves Christian and 2/3rds of those don’t even know how to be saved!
     I bring you good news of great joy
     that will be for all the people. For
     unto you is born this day in the
     city of David a Savior
WHAT IS A SAVIOR? Have any of you noticed a drop off in the use of the word “saved?” I have. I even feel funny using it just because I’m not sure people know what it means. But it’s a good word. We could replace it with rescued or delivered. But delivered makes many think about babies, boxes, and mail. Rescued is good because it implies a sense of danger or trouble or even death! But I think we need to keep the word “Saved” alive! Or else nobody will know why Jesus is a Savior!
A lifeguard rescues people from drowning. He SAVES them. People still know the meaning of saved in that context. It happened to me once. When I was about 12 I was swimming the rapids in my hometown of New Braunfels, Texas. I felt the tug of a whirlpool and just before I went under I yelled "help." Now these are pretty weak whirlpools in the Comal river and with one kick I was back above the water. Just in time to me hit smack in the face by an inner tube. Which stung, but I was glad to have it to grab on to. That lifeguard (I think his name was Max) was my savior that day. (Well, kinda, I wasn't really going to drown but he didn't know that.)
   Jesus came, as a Savior because God had already planned to save people. People who really needed saving! If you are saved today let me tell you something amazing. Before Jesus ever came, God knew, from before the foundation of the world, that Jesus would save you. Your eternal life would be guaranteed when His only begotten Son took your place on the cross! Jesus came as a Savior!
BUT SAVED FROM WHAT? That’s a good question.
Some think we need to be saved from our unfulfillment or our terrible life situation.[ii]
A)  Sometimes when we talk about our salvation we talk about how our life wasn’t complete. Maybe our marriage wasn’t too great till Jesus came along. Or we didn’t have the career we hoped for. Our kids didn’t turn out how we liked or we didn’t have the kinda of life we hoped for. We look at vacation brochures for skiing the alps but all we get is 3 nights in Oklahoma City! Now that might make most people turn to Jesus!
But we can give off the idea that Jesus came to deliver you from a bad marriage, or give us a better career. Or at least help you like the crummy career you got! Sometimes the idea we give people is Jesus came to help out our lot in life. With Jesus I drive a Lincoln, ski in Colorado, get promotions at work and my kid goes to Harvard!
B)    Sometimes we give people the impression that Jesus came to deliver us from bad habits or addictions. We treat Jesus as if he’s the “Higher Power” that some people in AA use as a "hook in heaven" to help them pull themselves up. Maybe its drugs or alcohol or even sexual sin. Maybe you had a bad temper, were a serial glutton or a serial murderer until Jesus came.
    Now these things I mentioned are certainly within the power of the gospel. Knowing Jesus can give you a new outlook on life. It can make you the kind of loving caring person who might get that promotion at work, or have a better marriage or raise better kids.
   The gospel – the good news of Jesus - can give you power over drugs and alcohol. It can deliver you from a wicked temper or the power of lust. But is that ALL Jesus came for?

     Further, what about those people who do feel fulfilled? They have a nice house and car, vacations galore. Their kids are doing great. They aren’t addicted to drugs or alcohol. Do they not need Jesus? There are millions of people in the world who get up every day, work in the fields, live in a hut, and marry their kids off to the neighboring village, who are content to do just that. They can’t imagine anything else! Don’t They Need the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
C)    Luk 2:10 And the angel said to them, 

     "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good 
     news of great joy that will be for all the 
     people. 11 For unto you is born this day 
     in the city of David a Savior. 
Saved from what? In the Matthew story of Jesus’ birth-
an angel – maybe the same angel here – appears to Joseph and says, 

     1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall 
     call his name Jesus, for he will save 
    his people from their sins. From Their Sins!
That’s what we are saved from. May not be as exciting as getting off drugs, or being fulfilled in their careers or helping them have perfect kids. It’s not a fulfilling as finding your purpose in life!   But salvation from sin is what God provides! 

For one thing, its universal. Everyone has a sin problem. 
Not everybody "needs" purpose or a better life!
  Why would God save us from our sins? Because that is the only way we can be right with Him! When you realize it’s not just about forgiveness.

Forgiveness is GREAT! But God will deliver you from the Penalty of sin, the hell created for the devil. He delivers you from the power of sin, which includes deliverance from addiction, and every sin that damages our relationship with Him! He also delivers from the Presence of sin. Jesus saves you from your sin that you might dwell in the House of the Lord forever!
The church needs to get back to telling the world what Jesus really came to do! Not to be your best friend, but to be your savior. Not to manage your career but to remove you from your sins. Not to help you stand head and shoulders above other men but to fall to your knees at the feet of Jesus!
You know the angels didn’t even tell the shepherds the baby’s name. They said you’ll find him in a manger, a feed trough. But they found him and his name was savior, not just his title. Because Jesus means the Salvation of Jehovah. The Savior sent by God.
That’s the Good News! God sent his Son to save us from the thing we try to deny we need saving from. We don’t like to admit we are sinners. But we are and God has a remedy!
A Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord.
This is what makes us truly understand the love of God. Not so much the things that Jesus does for us to help have happy lives. But the fact that He saved us from our sins.

[ii] Borrowed partially from John MacArthur.

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