O Holy Night

December 22, 2007 Isaiah 43:6-7


This Christmas Eve morning we continue our worship by singing one of man’s most beautiful & beloved of all carols, “O Holy Night” which separates the night of Christ’s birth from nights past or future. The melody of this song inspires and motivates one to contemplate the greatness of this night, a night divine. We find ourselves echoing the hymn writer’s first verse with “a thrill of hope and our weary souls rejoicing”.

This morning we look to the scriptures as they reveal why the hymnist focuses on the greatness of this night, most holy of nights.

So that each of us might understand the “thrill of hope” that sets our “weary hearts rejoicing”

You might recall from previous lessons that the word “holy” means “set apart”

What is it that sets this night, this birth apart from all others?

  • If you are one who does not consider yourself to be a believer in Jesus, simply try to
    be open to what God might show about himself and yourself, and ask him to confirm to you what is true and protect you from what is not.
  • If you are a believer, refresh what you have built your life on, and prepare to share the best news in the world through sharing what we learn today as God leads you to use it.

And may the Christ of Christmas on this Christmas Eve Sunday be honored!

Open with Prayer

You often hear people at this time of the year to encourage one another with the words “don’t forget ‘the reason for the season’”

The “reason for the season” describes Christ’s Mission. Why was it that the Everlasting King of Kings came to a lowly earth?

This as morn lets consider 6 biblical truths that allow us to grasp the “mission” of Christ and made the first Christmas “holy” of all nights.

The first two biblical truths we consider together.

Biblical truth #1: Godcreatedus for His glory.

Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth . . . whom I created for my glory (Isaiah 43:6-7)

Biblical truth #2: Every human shouldliveforGod’s glory.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).

  • These are almost the same, aren’t they?
  • What’s the difference?
  • Why does it matter to have two points instead of collapsing them into one?
  • This difference is that
  • Truth #1 speaks of God’s design, and
  • Truth #2 speaks of our duty.
  • Keeping them separate and putting them in this order says something very crucial about reality.
  • If we don’t hear it, we will probably not see the gospel as the precious news that it is.
  • The gruesome death of Christ will probably seem like a gross overreaction.
  • The crucial point is that God is:
  • the origin of all things and
  • the measure of all things and
  • the goal of all things.
  • And the universe is all about God.

We live in a world that doesn’t believe this.

There is a bumper sticker that’s out there, and I don’t like it, have you ever seen it?:

"It’s all about Me." Capital "M."

  • That is why the gospel of Jesus is so hard for many to understand.
  • It is rooted in a very different vision of reality.
  • It is not all about us. It is all about God.

God designed us to live for his glory.

This is all over the Bible. And it is therefore our life-calling and our duty to live for his glory.

Test yourself:

  1. Does the love of God to you mean that he makes you the center, or
  2. Does the love of God mean that He gives you everlasting joy – at great cost to Himself – of making him the center?

That is what you were made for. That would be your joy and that would be his glory.

Then consider the next two Biblical Truths together. They tell us of reality.

Biblical Truth #3: All of us have failedto glorify God as we should

"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

Biblical Truth #4: All of us are subject to God’s justcondemnation

"The wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23).

  • These, too, could be combined into one page, couldn’t they, just like the first two?
  • We could say,
  • "Because we are all sinners, we deserve God’s condemnation – we deserve punishment."
  • But something crucial would be lost if we said it that way.
  • What would be lost is the emphasis in Truth #3.
  • that sin is not mainly the way we have treated people, but
    the way we have treated God.
  • The bumper sticker would be wrong even if it meant, "My sin is all about ME."
  • God is the center of his own design in creation.
  • God is the center of our duty as creatures.
  • And God is the center of what it means to be sinners:
  • it means, as Romans 3:23 says, to fall short of the glory of God,

that is,

  • to prefer and enjoy some other greatness to God’s greatness.

Sin is first and foremost about how we treat God, not other people.

  • We will never make sense out of the horror of hell or the bloody cross of Christ if we do not feel the weight of sin as an insult to God.
  • Sin is not just man abusing man.
  • It is mainly man abusing God. Man rejecting God. Man ignoring God. Man preferring other things to God. And therefore man belittling God.
    This is the ultimate outrage in the universe.
  • We must feel this if the terrible punishment of Truth #4 is not going to seem unjust.
  • We have all treated God with contempt, and his wrath is coming on us. That is our biggest problem.
  • Bigger than the economy.
  • Bigger than international relations with Iraq or North Korea.
  • Bigger than the difficulties in our marriage or the pain of disease.
  • This is what the Christian Gospel is meant to remedy first and mainly.
  • How can we be saved from God’s just judgment?
  • There are many other wonderful effects of the gospel!
    But this is crucial, and others are based on it.

Now the gospel. Let’s consider the last two Biblical Truths together.

Biblical Truth #5: God sent his only son Jesus to provideeternal life and joy.

"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners..." (1 Timothy 1:15).

Biblical Truth #6: The benefits purchased by the death of Christ belong to those who repentand trusthim.

"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out" (Acts 3:19).

"Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31).

  • And again we could combine these two statements.
  • We could say:
    What is the remedy for sin and guilt and condemnation?
  • Answer: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved."
  • But that would be profoundly incomplete answer!
  • If you are drowning, the remedy is not just your cry for help; it is lifeguards and rescue lines and (if necessary) artificial respiration.
  • The cry for help just gets you connected with the saving work. If you are having a heart attack, your call to 911 is not your main remedy.
  • It’s ambulances and paramedics and CPR and nurses and surgeons and medicines.
  • The 911 call is just the connection to the saving work.
  • That’s the way it is with repenting of your sin and believing on Jesus (Truth #6).
  • That’s your connection with the saving work of God in Christ.
  • Christ did something to save us 2000 years ago.
  • He came, he lived a perfect life as the Son of God.
    • And he died as a substitute in the place of all who will trust him.
      1 Peter 3:18, "Christ suffered once for sin, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God."
    • Our faith is not the basis for our salvation. It connects us to the basis of our salvation. Christis the basis of our salvation.

His death and condemnation in the place of our condemnation;

His perfect righteousness in the place of our sin and imperfection.

This is the mission of Christ:

That mankind can be right with God,

that God can become exactly who He is,

“the center of the universe for all.”

This love directed toward man in the birth of Jesus is what makes the night of his birth holy.

Trust him with you life.

  • Trust him with your marriage or your singleness.
  • Trust him with your business and your financial situation.
  • Trust him with your health.
  • And, underneath all these, trust him with your sin and your guilt and your fear.
  • He has already acted to save.
  • It is finished.
  • He has died, and he has risen.
  • And his salvation can be yours by faith in him.
  • And when it is, then will come to pass the fulfillment of why you were made: God’s glory reflected in your joy forever.

Long lay the world in sin and error pining (obsessed and yearning)

Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!

O night divine, O night when Christ was born!