Community Group Study Notes
- Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching.
- One passage that helps us understand the incarnation is Philippians 2:5-11. Read through it and then share one thing that stands out to you and why.
- Which of the main points in the message spoke to you and why? (1-Jesus determines your value; 2-Jesus completely understands you; 3-Jesus calls you to decide.)
- How do you believe God wants you to live differently because of the truth you heard and discussed in your Community Group tonight?
Good morning. My name is Wes and I have the privilege of sharing God's truth with you today, which I'm really excited about. I want you to imagine that as you came in today, you were handed a gift. You're sitting right there and it's really a nice-sized present, wrapped beautifully, in your lap, and I tell you that hey, I want you to have this gift. Now most of you don't know me, so you're like, okay, maybe that's cool. I'm not sure what's in here. It could be weird, but maybe it's great. There's a little interest there, right?
What if I tell you, hey, this gift actually isn't from me. It's from a multi-billionaire who thinks you're awesome and he really wanted to bless you today, so this is a gift from him. All of a sudden it changes things a little bit, right? You'd be a little more excited. There'd probably be a spirit of excitement, a spirit of anticipation, a spirit of expectancy about hey man, what's in this? I want to open this thing. I want to get in this. I want to find out what it is, and I want to be blessed by it, right?
Well, here's the thing. That's what I'm praying for us today. I'm praying and I have been praying that God would give to us that kind of spirit of anticipation and expectancy over His Word, because God, who's greater than any multi-billionaire, who owns it all, who created it all, and who loves you more than anyone else ever could, has something that He wants to share with you today. See, He knows everything about you. He knows you through and through, your past, your present, He knows what's coming down the road for you. He understands the challenges that you have. He knows the hope that you need, the encouragement that you need, the wake up call that you need. He understands the challenges in your conflict relationally. He understands your addictions. He knows everything and He has crafted a truth for you personally, because God is more invested in you than anyone ever will be and He wants you to have that today.
Based on Acts 17, He's brought us together in this place. He's put you in this worship center or in front of that screen because He wants you to reach out to Him, because He has something for you. One word from God can change your life. It changed my life. It's just really true. The real question is will you hear from Him today? Do you want to hear from Him today? Not me, I'm a train wreck apart from Jesus Christ. I've got nothing that can change your life, but God, who created you, who loves you, He wants to talk to you today. Will you listen to Him? I've been praying that you will. I've been praying that we would lean forward. We all come into this room and into this space with stuff going on in our hearts and our minds. Just push that to the sidelines. Say God, take center stage. Would you do that today?
I want us to pray together. I invite you to bow your heads and close your eyes just for a moment and ask God to speak to you. Say Lord, you've got my attention. Speak to me. I will respond. God, thank you for the privilege for being in this place. Lord, we don't need my words today, we need Yours. You have the words of life. You know us completely, intimately. You want to speak to us. God, in this brief time that we have together, I pray that You would give us hearts to hear. Holy Spirit, be our teacher. May we lean into what You have for us, God. May we receive it, may we respond to it. Lord, I pray especially for those today who don't know You, today would be their day that they would find You personally, today would be their day of salvation. Thank you, Christ. You get all the glory because You alone are worthy. It's in Your name we pray these things, Jesus. Amen.
Grab your Bibles and open up to the book of 1 John, the gospel of John, not the 1 John, John, the first chapter. The gospel of John. It's the fourth book of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. You can use the Bible you brought with you or one that's in front of you, one that's on the table in the worship center, or on your electronic device, because this is going to be our main text and it won't be on the screen. I want you to see it in front of you as we walk through it today.
Now, as you're turning, crowd participation time. Let me ask you this. How many of you, when you were growing up, you either wanted to be a super hero, or at least have super powers? Anybody? Yeah, all right. Yeah, me too. How many of you wish you had the power of flight? Anyone want to do that? That was mine. I wanted to fly. How about super strength? Anybody? All right. Those are cool super powers, right? Nobody wanted the boring super powers, right? You're not looking at kids going, hey Billy, what do you want? I want to fly. How about you, Jimmy? I want x-ray vision. How about you, Sammy? I want to be really good at math. Okay, no kid ever wanted that super power, all right. Maybe now, but not then, right, because being a super hero with a really cool super power was awesome.
Well apparently we still think so. You can always tell what's important to people by what they're willing to spend their money on. We spend a lot of money on super heroes, apparently. Yeah, I was doing a little investigation, and this is what I found out. According to the entertainment website, Quartz, here are the global box office revenues for the top four super hero movies. Ready? Number four, Iron Man, $1.214 billion. Number three, Black Panther, $1.237 billion. Number two, Avengers, Age of Ultron, $1.405 billion, and number one movie, Avengers, $1.518 billion. Combined, almost $6 billion we're laying out for super heroes, right?
You go on the internet and you're going to find a lot of stuff about super heroes. There's even conventions for super heroes. I found this site. According to the entertainment website Popcorn, the 10 most popular super heroes, okay? They did this big investigation, the ten most popular super heroes. Here they are. Number ten, Green Lantern. How the heck did he make that list? I don't understand that. That's just me, but I'm like really, Green Lantern? Number nine, the Flash, number eight, Thor, number seven, the Hulk, number six, Captain America, number five, Wolverine, number four, Superman, number three, Iron Man, number two, Spider Man. Anybody want to guess what number one was? Batman, right.
Okay, as I'm reading this list, I'm going wait a minute. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Superman is number four? He's Superman. He's the total package. Batman beats him out? I'm starting to get really worked up. Then I get this little voice in my head going, hey Wes, they're not real, okay? Right? Phew. Not real people, okay?
Here's why I bring this up. In Christian theology, we believe we have someone far greater, far greater than any super hero, with more power than we can possibly imagine, and He's actually a real person. His name is Jesus. In Jesus, God stepped in, yeah, absolutely. In Jesus, God stepped into the human realm. It takes place at what we celebrate as Christmas, and one of the passages that talk about that is John chapter one, so please follow along as I read, beginning in verse one.
"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made. Without Him, nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God. His name was John." That's John the Baptist. "He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through Him, all men might believe. He himself was not the light. He came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet, to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, children born not of natural descent nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."
Again, in Jesus, God came, put on flesh, and came here to personally, physically be here. The word we use to describe that is the word incarnation. It's from the Latin meaning becoming flesh. That word explains and describes and helps us understand the happening where Jesus, the second person of the trinity, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, puts on flesh and comes here to be with us, born as us and among us.
Now, it's important to understand that He was fully God, fully man. He was fully God. Last week we heard an amazing sermon from Pastor Dan about that. It's important that we understand that Jesus at all times was fully God. That is one of the things, it's known as the divinity of Christ, one of the things, one of the issues that separates Christianity from every other world religion, every other belief system, be it Jehovah's Witness or Mormonism or Islam or Buddhism or Hindu. It separates us from all those because none of them believe, none of them believe that Jesus was God. Christianity believes differently. We believe that Jesus, at all times, was fully God.
Why do we believe that? Well, there's several sources that we can go to that tell us that. First of all, God the Father said so. Look at this. It says, "but about the Son, He, God, says Your throne, O God, will last forever and ever. A scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom." Your throne, O God. God the Father calls the Son God. The Father said so.
Secondly, Jesus Himself said so. He said, "I and the Father are one." Well the Pharisees, the religious folks during his lifetime, during Jesus' lifetime, when they heard Him say that, they got really, really angry, really angry, because they clearly understood what He was claiming. He was claiming equality with God. He was claiming to be God.
Thirdly, the demons said so. Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but He would not let the demons speak because they knew who He was. They knew who he was. Listen, when you get testimony from your enemy, that's legit, man. That is pretty significant right there.
Four, the disciples said so. Thomas said to Him, my Lord and my God, speaking to Jesus. Our text tells us this in verse one. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The verb was speaks to the eternality and pre-existence of Jesus as God. We believe that Jesus, when He came here to earth and put on flesh, He was, on the one hand, fully God, but we also believe that He was fully, at the same time, fully man. He not only was born with us, He was born as us.
Time and time again, the Bible reveals that to us. Here's kind of a highlight reel of how we come to that understanding. The Bible presents Jesus as first He was born of a woman. He didn't just show up, okay? He actually went through the birthing canal of his mother. He was born of a woman, had brothers and sisters, so He understands the dynamics of family, okay? How many of you are going to family gatherings during the Christmas holiday season, right? Yeah, right. Okay, sure. Guess what? Jesus understands all of that because He had a family. He was at different celebrations as well. He understands the challenges and the difficulties, as well as the joys, of family dynamics, because He had brothers and sisters.
He was raised to be Jewish. He understands racial issues. Why? Because He was racially Jewish. He learned and grew. That means He went through the different stages of life. He was a baby, He was a child, He was a toddler, He was a middle schooler, He was a high schooler, He was a young adult. Jesus grew through those. He understands us in that way.
He got thirsty. He has the same physical needs that we have. He worked. He understood and understands what it means to hold down a job. He was in the working force. He understands all of that, all right?
He had close friends. He understands the joy and the challenges of close relationships, all right? He loved children, and children loved him. It's one of the ways that we know that Jesus was probably a blast to be around, because think about kids, who they want to be around. They don't want to be around somebody who's grumpy. Nobody wants to be around an angry uncle, okay? No kid ever wants that. They want to be around someone who's kind, who's fun, who's good, who's gracious. That was Jesus.
He had compassion. He felt deeply. He experienced emotions deeply. He experienced stress. He was happy. He wept. He felt grief. He got weary. He understands us because He experienced what we experience. He was fully human. Fully God, fully human. He not only came to reveal God, he came to identify with us.
Now you might be sitting there going, wow, that's great, that's encouraging, that's cool and everything, but what does that have to do with me right here, 2,000 years later? How does that impact my life? Glad you asked, because I want to give you three truths from the incarnation that are absolute game changers.
Okay, here we go. Truth number one. Jesus determines your value. Now follow me on this. Look at verse three of the text. Through Him, through Jesus, all things were made. Without Him, nothing was made that has been made. Jesus made all things. He's the Creator God, which means He created everything, all. That means everything. He created the universe, He created plants, He created the elements, He created every molecule. He created hills and valleys and animals. Guess who else is included in that word all? You, me. He chose to create us.
Listen, your parents didn't create you. They can't create life. God created you. He chose for you to be here on this planet. Think about that for a minute. He's the Creator God, Jesus, the Creator God, limitless possibilities at His fingertips, He could have created billions of different people in your place. He had billions upon billions of different options that He could have put in your place. He said no to every single one of them. He said yes to you. That screams value. You have value and bestowed worth because God says I choose to create you. I chose to put you here.
What that means is we are no longer locked into our world's faulty, flawed system of determining value. You know what that is. There's all these outward markers. If you have power or if you have position or you can perform well, you can get the job done, then you have value, then you have worth. If you have stuff, that's what Jerry just talked about that. If you have a lot of money you can amass a lot of possessions and man, guess what? You have a lot of value, you have a lot of worth, you have significance as a person. If you have personal beauty, okay, if you can meet this external standard of beauty, then you're one of the beautiful people. You have value. You can feel good about yourself.
When I talk to groups of students, I really drill down on that one, because we as adults in general, but students in particular, man, they are really hounded by that. So many of them are held hostage by that because we live in a world that screams that to them. All the products that we are pushed, our carefully manicured social media platforms become the litmus test of if we're valid or not, and it all establishes an external standard of beauty. If you want to be one of the beautiful people, you've got to have this body type, this body shape, this kind of complexion, and then you have value. If you can't meet this, then you don't have worth.
Now here's the thing. I look at students when I talk to them about this, and I say hey, this right here, it's a lie. It doesn't exist. Now they look at me kind of like, oh really, like they're going to challenge me on that. I say, hey, I'll prove it to you. I'll prove to you that this external standard of beauty doesn't exist, and I give them this illustration. When I have a group of students, I say, okay, imagine I take 10 guys, I say students, imagine I get 10 of you guys, 10 volunteers, I load you up in a van. I say, guys, I'm going to take you down to an auditorium where I've got 1,000 hot girls. Now at this point all the guys are like, hey, I'm in, you know. Easy there, Skippy, it's just an illustration.
I say I put them in a van, I take them down. I say okay guys, here's your assignment. You go into that auditorium, you can't talk to any of the girls, okay? You just look at them, you observe them, but I want you at the end of the time, take as much time as you need, but when you're ready, I want you to bring out with you whom you believe is the best looking girl of that 1,000. I send 10 guys in. Guess how many different girls I'm getting out? 10 different girls. No way they're all choosing the same one. If there's an external standard of beauty, there'd be one that would rise to the top.
I do the same thing with the girls. I get 10 volunteers, 10 girls, I say hey, I'm going to put you in a van. I've got 1,000 hunky guys down in the auditorium. I don't know what hunky means, but I say it anyway. I say now I want you to go in and pick out whom you believe to be the best looking guys. I send in 10 girls. I'm going to get 10 different guys out. They won't all choose the same one.
I look at students, I say this. I say do you know what that means? That means they're some people in the world, you're the most beautiful person around. It's an old saying, but it's a true saying. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That's true, right?
Do you want another example? Look at me. Thanks. Wow. Let's check Wes' self esteem meter. Urr. Okay. Listen, I get it. I understand, I understand, right? I've got kind of a big nose, my hair, I'm still doing research. I'm still not sure what's going on there. I've got an Adam's apple that just won't quit. When I was younger, I was a little bit thinner. Man, this thing would just dominate the landscape, man. It was just unbelievable. When I was younger, my mom would dress me in turtlenecks. Remember that guys? Remember? Anybody have to suffer through that? Yeah, that was a hostile situation. We went through that. My friends would come up to me, I'm not lying, my friends would come up to me, hey Wes, hey look at your throat. Did you swallow a volleyball? That's funny.
True story. Some of you have heard this before. This is a true story. I have two kids. They're awesome. My son, Dylan's 18, my daughter, Lizzy's 15, but when my son, Dylan was little, I'm sitting on the couch one day. He comes in, he jumps up on my lap. He stares at my throat. I mean he's just staring at my throat. I'm like, oh, what's going on here, man, right? Finally he says, Dad, what is that? He points to my Adam's apple. I go it's my Adam's apple. He goes, can I touch it? I'm like sure. No lie. This is what he did. Ouch, that's sharp. Awesome. Apparently I have some kind of weapon coming out of my throat right there, right? This is like a magic Ginsu knife. Hey, give me that potato. Hey, look at that. Oh, waffle fries. I should work for Chick-fil-A. Yeah. You laugh, you laugh, but my wife, she thinks I'm a stud. Yeah. Do you know why? Because she's blind. Yeah, that's right. No, it's not true. It's not true.
Listen, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but do you want the best example ever of all of that that there's no externals that really develop your value and determine your worth? It's the incarnation. The incarnation, the best ... When the prophet Isaiah, when he was predicting about the coming Messiah, about Jesus, and giving a physical description of Christ, look what he wrote. Look what he wrote in Isaiah 53. "He," speaking of Jesus, "had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him." Nothing, no beauty, nothing. Think about that.
He's the Creator. He could have created the most stunning human flesh suit ever. Just walking in the room, people would be falling over going I want to follow You. It would be so amazing. He didn't. He didn't. Why? Listen, He was telling us something. What's on the outside, it's not what's most important. It's not where your value comes from. All these outward externals, it's not what determines your value. Listen, our insecurity often comes from our uncertainty about our value and our worth. Jesus knows that. He created us. He says I want you to understand, I want you to understand something. You have value because I've given it to you. People nor circumstances give you value, which means people nor circumstances are able to take it away from you. They can't because they didn't give it to you. God gave it to you. Jesus said I want you to be here. He understands.
So often we listen to voices outside of us and we look at things outside of us to determine, hey, am I really okay? Do you think I'm really okay? What do I have to do in order to get you to think I'm okay? We lock onto those things and they become the litmus tests for if we have significance and value, and we ride that wave. Jesus, through the incarnation, because our creation is bound up in the incarnation narrative, He wants to cut through all that. He says, look, that's not what makes you valuable. He says you have incredible value, bestowed worth, because I've given it to you. He says I know how you feel, I know everything about you. I know what you need. You have value because I say so.
Which leads us to the second truth, and it's this. Jesus completely understands. John 1:14, the incarnation, tells us this. Look. "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us." The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us here. Jesus completely understands you because He was here. He was born as us. 100% God, 100% man. It had to be that way, because if He was just 100% man, we'd get close to Him, but we wouldn't worship Him. If He was just 100% holy, awesome God, we'd worship Him, but we'd never venture to get close to Him. Because He's God and man, we can worship Him and we can get close to Him. Listen, because He is who He is, Jesus not only is big enough to handle our issues, He's close enough to understand us because He was us. He was us. That's am amazing, amazing thing.
Pastor and author Timothy Keller says it this way. Jesus understands us from inside our situation, from inside our story. Again, no other belief system, no other religion gives us that, gives us a God who knows exactly what it feels like to be human, exactly what it feels like to be lonely, to be abandoned, to be talked about, to be tired, to be weary, to be crushed. No other belief system gives us that. Christianity does, because Jesus was born as us. He completely understands you.
There's more. There's another Scripture that expounds on that. It's here in the book of Hebrews. It says, "For we do not have a high priest that," speaking of Jesus, "who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet He did not sin." Tempted in every way just like you. Tempted in every way, just like you. Today, to the one who said, I'm tempted, Jesus says me too, I understand. I was here. To the one who says, I'm assaulted by lust, I'm tempted towards jealousy, I'm tempted towards selfishness, I'm tempted to doubt, I'm tempted to wonder about God's plans, I'm tempted to cut corners, I'm tempted to just give it all up. Jesus says, me too. I was tempted in every way, every way, just like you. Your way, my way, every way, and yet without sin, which means in every single temptation, not once did He cave, not once did He give in. He conquered every single time, which puts Him in the perfect position to help you and to help me, because He understands. He completely understands.
He knows everything you go through. He understands everything you experience. He understands it all. Do you know what He wants to do with that knowledge? Not condemn you. He wants to do something different. It's the very next verse in Hebrews. "Let us then," because we understand this about Jesus, "let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Jesus said I want you to come to Me. I want you to come to the throne, not so that you can get a little pep talk, not so that I can give you a little Christian cliché that you see on a bumper sticker. He said I want to give you what you need. I want to give you grace. I want to give you mercy. If you're a believer here, you're a Christ follower, this is for you. Today, right now, 24/7, it is no longer a throne of judgment. It is a throne of grace. God says I want you to come because I want to give you what you need. I know the help that you need and I want to give it to you. I want you to come get it. I want you to come get it because I want to give it to you.
I want you to bring your doubts. I want you to bring your questions. I want you to bring your why's. Why God? Listen, we all have those. We all have them. Sometimes we think that if God would just answer my why question I'd be okay. I don't think that's true. Here's why. One, we couldn't handle the weight of that knowledge. We couldn't. He's perfect in wisdom and understanding and knowledge. He's infinite. His infinitude affects everything. He stands outside of time. He is above everything. He knows the beginning from the end. Instantly, at one moment, He sees everything. He knows every possible outcome, every possible scenario. He knows it because He's infinite. We are finite. You try to take the infinite and shove it into the finite, you'll crush it, you'll destroy it. We can't handle the weight of that knowledge.
Secondly, we don't have the capacity or the ability. We don't have the capacity or the ability. If I had a little baby here and I say, hey, little baby, guess what? I'm going to teach you today how to understand the inner workings of a car engine. I've got this really cool PowerPoint presentation. It's really slick. It has a killer soundtrack, a lot of moving graphics, and for an hour I explain it. At the end of the hour, do you think this baby's going to grasp it? No. Why? It doesn't have the ability, it doesn't have the capacity. Neither do we. We're finite, He's infinite.
Let's just imagine we could grasp intellectually the why of a situation in our life, and you're thinking of one right now. Imagine we could grasp the why. That still wouldn't deal with our deepest need. Imagine I'm working around my kitchen, and all of a sudden I look up and I've got this huge gash in my finger and there's blood pouring out. I'm like, what in the world? How did this happen? Why did this ... I start looking around, I start to look for answers. After about three minutes I realize that there's a rough edge on my counter I never noticed before and I must have just ripped my finger against it and that's why that happened. Now at that point, am I okay? No. I've got blood pouring out of my finger, man. I've got to give attention to this thing. I need to get bandages or stitches or duct tape or something. I need something for this finger that's pouring out blood. I've got to give it some attention. It needs care.
Even if we were able to intellectually grab a why of our situation, it still wouldn't satisfy and deal with our deepest need, our heart. The heart is what hurts. Our heart needs attention, it needs care. Our soul needs healing and that, God says, is where I want to go to work, because I know that is what you really need. He says I want you to come to My throne. I want you to come to My throne. We don't have time.
John, who wrote this gospel, also wrote the last book of the Bible, Revelation. In chapter four, he gives us a picture, a glimpse of the throne, and it is awesome. It is overwhelming. It is magnificent. It is terrifying because from this throne come flashes of lightning and peals of thunder. God says that's the throne I want you to come to with confidence. Why? Because I want you to see that I'm still the King and I'm still in charge and I'm still sovereign and I'm not caught off guard by things, and I am still in control. I want you to look at this, because this right here, your temporary circumstances, are temporary. Your temporary situation is temporary. I want you to see what's eternal. I want to give you perspective and I want you to know the power that I have, that I can leverage on your behalf, because it's a throne of grace and My heart is for you and I want you to come to Me. That is the heart of Jesus for you.
He says I want you to come to My throne. I want you to spend time with Me. How do we do that? Through His Word, through prayer, through worship. He wants to heal our hearts. He wants to heal our soul. He wants to give us perspective because He understands exactly how you feel. He knows exactly how you feel. He gets you. The incarnation helps us understand that.
There's a third and final thing. It's this. Jesus calls you to decide. Jesus came here, to this planet. Awesome, right? Not everybody thought so. Verse 10, verse 11, John chapter one, it says this. "He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him." Why? Because light, while it gives warmth and guidance, it also exposes darkness. Darkness doesn't want that. It hates it, actually.
Jesus tells us that two chapters later in John chapter three. Look at this. "This is the verdict. Light has come into the world," these are Jesus' words about it, "but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds are evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed." Listen, just sometime read through the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the life and times of Jesus Christ. Just read through those. Do you know what you're never going to find? You're never going to find someone who encountered Jesus and walked away nonchalantly. You're never going to find somebody who encountered Christ and just walked away. Wow, Jesus is so upbeat. I just want to be a better person. Never going to find that, man.
There were one of three reactions. One, they were afraid. They were afraid. They were terrified of who He was, what He represented, how He spoke, what He did. They were afraid of Him. Two, they were angry. They were angry because He was telling them truth, He was calling them out of darkness into light. They didn't want that. They were comfortable. He was messing with their comfort. They had created this little life for themselves, this little box, and this is where they wanted to stay. Jesus said that's false. It's not true. I want to tell you the truth. I want to call you out into the light. They didn't want that. They got angry at Him, angry enough to kill Him.
Third, the third reaction was awe. They realized who He was and they fell and they worshiped Him and they committed their lives to Him and they followed Him. Why? Why those reactions? Because ultimately that's where the incarnation leads us. Again, pastor, author Timothy Keller says it this way. The incarnation tells us that our situation is so dire that nothing less than the death of the Son of God can redeem us. We're messed up, man. We're broken. We're sinners, sinners by birth, sinners by choice. We come into this world and we are alienated from God. We tell God we don't want Him to be in charge of our lives. Sin is an ultimate hate crime against God, and if nothing changes in our lives, if nothing changes in our lives, when we step off this planet in death, and every single one of us is going to do that, then we're going to be separated from God forever in a place of justice and judgment called hell, the payment for sin, God's righteous wrath revealed against sin forever.
People don't like to talk about hell. Do you know who talked about hell, who helped us understand what hell was really all about in the New Testament? Jesus. Why in the world would He do that when it's such a challenging doctrine? There's only one reason I can think of, because it's true and He wants us to know the truth. He says this is the destiny, this is what awaits you because of your sin. God is a God of justice. He has to have payment for sin, but it's not what God wants for us, so He offers us an invitation.
It's right here in the text, verse 12. "Yet to all," wide open, no guard rails, man, no boundaries. "But to all who received Him," Jesus, "to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God." That word believe is the same word used in John 3:16, the most famous verse in all the Bible. "For God so loved the world," so loved you and me, that He what? He gave. He said I'm not just going to send my Son to live the perfect life in front of you, a life that you can never live. He's going to take on your sin, every single sin ever committed by every human being is placed on Jesus Christ on the cross. God rolled up every single one of our hells and placed it on Jesus. He poured out His wrath on His Son, payment for sins. Jesus screamed, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?"
He died, was buried, three days later, rose from the grave, seen by over 500 witnesses, ascended, sits at the right hand of the Father right now, comes to you and to me through His word, says I love you. I want you to know Me. Look at verse 12 again. What it says is, "who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God." Jesus' first and foremost plan is not to get you to heaven, it's to get you to God. It's to get you in a relationship with the Father, the one who wants you to know Him. He wants your sins forgiven. He wants you made whole on the inside so that you can start living that out on the outside. He wants you to be with Him forever in heaven, but He wants you to live the snapshot of time that you have on this planet in relationship with Him because He loves you. You've got to choose it. You're either going to receive Him or you're going to reject Him. Jesus calls you to choose. There is no middle ground.
As we look at this, the incarnation, one, it tells us that the world's system of evaluating our worth is wrong. He says you have worth because I chose to create you. Tie it to My words. Listen, if you're here and you're a believer and you struggle with that, as we all do from time to time, I really believe that Jesus is just looking you, through this Scripture, looking you in the eye and saying, listen, how much longer are you going to believe what the world says about you more than what I say about you? How much longer are you going to put your faith in what the culture says about you than what I say about you? He says spend time with Me. Listen to what I tell you.
The second thing the incarnation tells us, Jesus gets you, totally, completely, inside and out, He gets you. He understands. He doesn't want to condemn you, He wants to help you, He wants to rescue you. Listen, the grace of God is not about excusing our sin, it's about rescuing us from our sin. That's what He wants for you.
Third, the incarnation tells us we can't be neutral about Jesus. Listen, the incarnation didn't happen, Jesus didn't come here to be born as us just to let us know that God exists. He came to let us know that God wants us to be with Him forever. Christmas, you have a promise and you have a gift. The promise is the coming Messiah, the King, Jesus Christ. The gift is eternal life. The Bible tells us that He's placed life in His Son. If you have the Son, you have life. If you don't have the Son of God, you don't have life. Period. Jesus wants you to know Him. He wants you to know Him, but you've got to choose. You've got to choose. His invitation's pretty simple. Demand nothing, surrender everything, because that's what God wants for you. In the incarnation, Jesus was born as us. God did the miraculous in order to get close to us. He did that because He wanted to. The question here today is what do you want? What do you truly want?
Let's pray together. With your heads bowed and your eyes closed, just for a moment, thank you guys so much. You're always so gracious, man. I really appreciate that. Here's the moment, this is the moment, man. This is the critical moment. What did God say to you and what are you going to do about it? What are you really going to do about it? How are you going to apply this truth in your life? What did the Spirit of the Living God, the awesome, wonderful, terrifying Almighty, King of kings that loves you passionately, what did He speak into your life, and what does He want you to do with it when you walk out these doors? He speaks with purpose. What has He talked to you about, and what will you do? Take a moment right where you are in the silence of this moment and respond to Him. Step into the throne room of your heart with Him. Meet with Him. Respond to Him. God means business, man.
A final question. If you're here and you don't know Jesus, man, if you died tonight, you say, Wes, I'm not sure I'd make heaven or I'm pretty sure I wouldn't make heaven, that can change for you right now. Right now. Can I just tell you that that is the singular reason why God brought you here today, because He wants you to know Him? He sent His Son to die for you so that that could happen, that could be a reality in your life. If you're sitting here and you're saying that's what I want, then just tell Him in the silence of this moment and the quietness of your heart, all the faith that you have, tell Him.
In fact, let me give you some words. Somebody loved me enough one day to give me some words to help me. If you're not sure, just pray something like this. Mean the words as your own. They're not magic. Just mean them as your own. In the silence, just say dear Jesus, I'm a sinner. I get it. I know I can't save myself. I believe You died for me and You have life to give me, and I want that. I want You, so I turn from my sin. I repent. I don't want it. I've seen what I can do with my life. I'm ready to see what You can do with my life. Come into my life right now and save me. I believe in You. I'm all Yours. I'm all Yours.