Monday, December 24, 2007

Advent 2007: Christmas Eve Message

“Joy To the World, the Lord Has Come”
Christmas Eve Candlelighting
December 24, 2007

“Advent” means “coming.” Christmas is coming–tomorrow. Jesus has come and is coming again.

This Advent season, we have been preparing our hearts for Christmas and for Jesus by contemplating the differences between Jesus’ first coming and His second coming.


On the first Sunday, Blair and Ruth Murray reminded us that at His first advent, Jesus came in surprising humility, but that one day, He will come with full majesty.

He was a king, but He didn’t look like it. On that day, He will!


Our second candle was lit by Jeff and Nancie Banghart. It highlights that when Jesus first came, very few worshiped Him, but when He comes again, every knee will bow.

At His first coming, there was only Mary, Joseph, and a few smelly old shepherds. That’s all. But on that day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!


Davey & Kelly Williamson lit our third candle that reminds us that Jesus first came to a life filled with sorrow, but that at His second coming, He will be full of glorious joy and bring amazing joy to His people.

He was a man of sorrows, but He will bring Joy to the World!


Yesterday, Charlie and Pam lit the fourth candle. A candle of both salvation and condemnation. At Jesus’ first He came to save, not to condemn. However, when Jesus returns, He will save His people, but He will also bring judgment on those who have not believed.

One Lord Jesus Christ. Two Advents.

Tonight, on Christmas Eve, we light the Christ Candle. The center candle that reminds us why Jesus came the first time, how He will come again, and how we should make ourselves ready for Him.


Let me read to you a key passage from the book of Hebrews that talks about Jesus’ first and second coming.

It’s in Hebrews chapter 9. Verses 26-28.

“He [that is, Jesus] has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

I want to point out some things to you from that passage.

First, notice that we all have an appointment with death and judgment.

Verse 27 said, “Man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment.”

The King James Version says, “It is appointed unto men once to die...”

I don’t know about you, but generally I like appointments. I love to schedule a time to meet with someone. I like to have one scheduled for every morning of the week.

I like to be busy with appointments. But there are some appointments that I don’t like. Who looks forward to their dentist appointments? If you do, you’ve got a problem!

There is one appointment that I don’t look forward to very much at all. And that is my date with death. Do you realize that you have an appointment with death?

That is an appointment you will not miss. You didn’t make it! But You will show up for your appointment with death.

I remember, as a teenager, reading this story told by Peter Marshall, the late chaplain of the US Senate about a servant of a merchant in ancient Baghdad. “One day the merchant sent his servant to the market. Before very long, the servant came back, white and trembling, and in great agitation said to his master: ‘Down in the market place I was jostled by a person in the crowd, and when I turned around I saw it was Death that jostled me. Death looked at me and made a threatening gesture. Master, please lend me your horse, for I must hasten away to avoid Death. I will ride to Samarra and there I will hide, and Death will not find me.’ The merchant lent him his horse and the servant galloped away in great haste. Later the merchant went down to the market place himself and found Death standing in the crowd. He went over and asked, ‘Why did you frighten my servant this morning? Why did you make such a threatening gesture?’ ‘That was not a threatening gesture,’ Death said, ‘It was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I have an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.’”

You and I will show up for our appointment with Death.

But really, that is nothing! What is an even more terrible thought–after our deaths–we will all face judgment. “And after that to face judgment.”

God is saying in His Word that everyone (you, me, everyone we will ever meet, everyone) is destined to face judgment.

We will stand before a Holy God, a consuming fire and give an account!

Are you ready for that appointment? So many are not ready.

But here’s the good news:


He came to bear sin!

And He did it by dying on the Cross. Listen again to verse 26.

“[Jesus] has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

That little boy born in Bethlehem town and placed in a manger did not stay a baby.

He grew to be a man.

And then He died on the Cross to bear the sins of many.

The Gospel is that Jesus Christ took on the punishment for sins that you and I deserve.

His died as a substitute for us! In our place!

I deserved to die on the Cross. But Jesus took my place. That’s the gospel!

And when He came back to life, it proved that He was all that He said He was and that He had accomplished all that He said He would do!

And our job, is simply to trust Him and what He did on the Cross for us.

That’s what gets us ready for our appointment–Jesus’ Crosswork.

But that’s not all there is to the good news!

The good news gets even better.


That’s what this candle represents.

He came once to bear sin. He comes again to bring salvation.

Listen to Hebrews 9:27&28 again.

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once (AND ONLY ONCE!) to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin (HE DOESN’T HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN!), but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

Jesus is coming again.

And He’s coming with salvation in His hand!

The question is: “ARE WE WAITING FOR HIM?”

Are you waiting for Him?

If you are not, you are still going to die. And you will NOT be ready for your appointment with judgment.

It’s a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Some people think, “I’m not so bad and God’s not so mad.”

But that’s not true. I am bad. And God is mad at sin.

And if I’m not hopefully waiting for the Lord’s return, I’m not ready to meet Him.

But you don’t have to be! Christ came to bear your sins so that you don’t have to!

Turn and trust!

Let this Christmas Eve be the first day of your eternal life.

Turn and trust in the Savior. So that you are expectant of Him!

Are you waiting for Him?

If you are, congratulations! Because Jesus is going to bring you salvation!

Salvation from sins!
Salvation from Satan!
Salvation from this world!

Joy to the World!

The song Joy to the World is more about Jesus’ second advent than His first.

And it expresses the wonders that are coming our way when Jesus comes back.

Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,

Joy to the world! the Saviour reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,

That, and so much more, is what we have to look forward to when Jesus comes back.

He comes back not to bear sin this time. He did that all the first time.

But to bring salvation and joy to those who are waiting for Him.

Are you waiting for Him?

You can know if you’re ready, if you’re waiting.

When I was growing up, my brother and I and the neighbor kids would play hide and go seek. I’m sure that almost everyone here has played it at some time. Everyone hides except for one person. And that person is the seeker. The seeker buries his or her eyes and counts to (50 or whatever, 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi...). And then when he or she finishes the count, what do they do? What do they yell?

“Ready or not, here I come!”

Jesus Christ is delaying His return so that the full count of sinners will come into His salvation.

But ready or not, He is coming.

And He is coming for those who look for Him. For those who long for His appearing. Those who are ready for their appointment are those who trust Him and love Him and are eagerly waiting for His return.

Let that be us!