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This Shall Be a Sign unto You

Copyright © 20181

by
Percy Gutteridge

Image of the manger copyright by www.LumoProject.com, licensed exclusively by FreeBibleimages.org for teaching purposes only; used with permission according to license terms.“This shall be a sign unto you.”
But what was the sign?2

1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because He was of the house and lineage of David:) 5to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.” 16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

Luke 2:1-18

As we read through Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus, we discover a key theme of the Christmas season. It’s the message that the angel gave to the shepherds. The fact that an angel said it underscores its importance. He said:

“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

What is the significance of this sign? If God took the trouble [continue reading…]

Jesus’ First Sermon

Copyright © 2018

by Jim Kerwin

a scroll of the Hebrew scripturesWhat is “the acceptable year of the Lord”?1

Every time there is a “first” in the Scriptures, it is good to take note of it, because often the Holy Spirit is laying down a special foundation, or principle, or doctrine. I believe this is true in the case of Jesus’ first recorded sermon, which we will look at today. You will find His message in Luke chapter 4. You can turn there (I’ll give you the verses in a minute) while I introduce the subject.

Part of what I teach leaders when I come to Latin America is the importance of context when they are reading and studying and teaching and preaching God’s word. The two most important points are these:

  1. Every time we come to the Scriptures, as we are reading we must ask ourselves, “What is the context of this verse, this passage, this chapter, this book? What is the context within the text, and what are the historical, cultural, and original language contexts? What do I need to know to fully understand the passage like the first readers did?
  2. The greatest context is that of the entire Bible, which is why I encourage all Christian leaders – indeed, all Christians – to read through the Bible cover to cover at least once every year.

As you turn with me to Luke 4:14, let’s think about the context of our passage. In the previous chapter, Luke 3, Jesus was water-baptized by John; immediately the Spirit of the Lord [continue reading…]

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Part 5)

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

by John Wesley

Part V:
Advice to the Sanctified

Section 25 (continued)

Question 29: Can those who are perfect grow in grace?

Answer: Undoubtedly they can; and that not only while they are in the body, but to all eternity.

Question 30: Can they fall from it?

Answer: I am well assured they can: matter of fact puts this beyond dispute. Formerly we thought, that one saved from sin could not fall; now we know the contrary. We are surrounded with instances of those who lately experienced all that I mean by perfection. They had both the fruit of the Spirit, and the witness; but they have now lost both. Neither does anyone stand by virtue of anything that is implied in the nature of the state. There is no such height or strength of holiness as it is impossible to fall from. If there be any that cannot fall, this wholly depends on the promise of God.

Question 31: Can those who fall from this state recover it? [continue reading…]

Earth’s Most Powerful Preacher

Copyright © 20111

by
Percy Gutteridge

Psalm 19

  1. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.
  2. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge.
  3. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
  4. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
  5. Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices as a strong man to run a race.
  6. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hidden from the heat thereof.
  7. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
  8. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
  9. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
  10. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
  11. Moreover by them is your servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
  12. Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.
  13. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
  14. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

Who Is Earth’s Most Powerful Preacher?

Silouhette of a preacherWho is earth's most powerful preacher?2

Let’s consider the question, “Who is the most powerful preacher that God has ordained on earth?” And understand that I’m not talking about a human being. I am not going to pick out one of today’s famous evangelists or ministers and say, “This one is the most powerful preacher,” because none of them has the worldwide audience or impact of God’s sovereign choice. So then, let’s refine the question and ask, “What is the most powerful preacher that God has ordained on earth?” as we examine potential candidates.

The Sun?

How about the sun? Is the sun earth’s most powerful preacher? Our Scripture passage says that the sun is really a preacher; it comes out of its chamber as a bridegroom. It comes up in the morning and goes down at night, going right over the whole circuit of heaven, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. It preaches of light, it preaches of energy, it preaches of power, it preaches of judgment, it preaches even of love. It preaches also of life, because there would be no life without the sun. The sun preaches to us about so many things.

But men don’t take any notice. In fact, some foolish people [continue reading…]

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Part 1)

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

by John Wesley

Part I:
Historical Background
of the Teaching

Section 1

What I purpose in the following pages is, to give a plain and distinct account of the steps by which I was led, during a course of many years, to embrace the doctrine of Christian Perfection.  This I owe to the serious part of mankind; those who desire to know all the truth as it is in Jesus.  And these only are concerned in questions of this kind.  To these I would nakedly declare the thing as it is, endeavouring all along to show, from one period to another, both what I thought, and why [continue reading…]

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Part 2)

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

by John Wesley

Part II:
The Teaching Explained

Section 17

On Monday, June 25, 1744 our first conference began, six clergymen and all our preachers being present.  The next morning we seriously considered the doctrine of sanctification, or perfection.  The questions asked concerning it, and the substance of the answers given, were as follows:—

Question: What is it to be sanctified?

Answer: To be renewed in the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness [Ephesians 4:24].

Question: What is implied in being a perfect Christian?

Answer: The loving God with all our heart, and mind, and soul (Deut. vi. 5). [continue reading…]

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Part 3)

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

by John Wesley

Part III:
Tares Among the Wheat Contrasted
with the Wonderful Testimony of Jane Cooper

Section 20

In the year 1762 there was a great increase of the work of God in London.  Many, who had hitherto cared for none of these things, were deeply convinced of their lost estate; many found redemption in the blood of Christ; not a few backsliders were healed; and a considerable number of persons believed that God had saved them from all sin.  Easily foreseeing that Satan would be endeavouring to sow tares among the wheat [Matthew 13:24-30], I took much pains to apprise them of the danger, particularly with regard to pride and enthusiasm.  And while I stayed in town, I had reason to hope they continued both humble and sober-minded.  But almost as soon as I was gone, enthusiasm broke in.  Two or three began to take their own imaginations for impressions from God, and thence to suppose that they should never die; and these, labouring to bring others into the same opinion, occasioned much noise and confusion.  Soon after, the same persons, with a few more, ran into other extravagances,—fancying they could not be tempted; that they should feel no more pain; and that they had the gift of prophecy, and of discerning of spirits. [continue reading…]

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Part 4)

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

by John Wesley

Part IV:
“Farther Thoughts on Christian Perfection”

Section 25

The next year [1763], the number of those who believed they were saved from sin still increasing, I judged it needful to publish, chiefly for their use, Farther Thoughts on Christian Perfection:

Question 1: How is “Christ the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth”? (Rom. x. 4)

Answer: In order to understand this, you must understand what law is here spoken of; and this, I apprehend, is:— [continue reading…]

This entry is part 12 of 12 in the series Faith Is Substance

Copyright © 1975, 2002

by
Percy Gutteridge

Faith is the substance that cements us to all the promises of God, the sweet bond of union that assures to us our abiding in the love of the Father. Faith leads us on to eventual triumph. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? …For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39). God has appointed the way whereby we may obtain all of His promises: it is the way of faith. The Lord Jesus once said to a man of a doubting heart, “Believe! All things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23)

[continue reading…]

This entry is part 19 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

Public Domain1

by
Evangelist Thomas Cook

Matthew Henry says “that when Christ died He left a will, in which He bequeathed His soul to His Father, his body to Joseph of Arimathea, His clothes fell to the soldiers, His mother He gave to John, but to His disciples, who had left all for Him, He left not silver and gold, but something that was infinitely better — His peace.”2 “My peace I give unto you” [John 14:27]. Elsewhere this peace is described as the peace of God [Philippians 4:7; Colossians 3:15], because He is its source and origin. It is the peace which Christ had with the Father from the beginning, the peace in the heart of the Eternal, the stillness of eternity entering the spirit, causing a waveless, breathless calm. It lies not in the emotions, nor in the absence of the emotions. It is a peace not springing up in the course of nature, but handed down from heaven, and implanted in the believing soul. [continue reading…]

“How They Grow”: Part 1

This entry is part 1 of 16 in the series How They Grow

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.

Luke 12:27

Preliminary

S

anctification is a very common word in both the Old and the New Testaments.  It is also a subject treated more or less in all complete systems of theology.  In nearly all catechisms the question is asked, “What is sanctification?” and some answer is given.  It is a libel on the intelligence of the evangelical Christendom of the age to deny knowledge of the doctrine and faith in it.  The fact is, all Christians believe in it, only they have their way about receiving it.  Indeed, after all, the question is not about the truth of the doctrine, but about the obtainment of the grace.  Nobody wants other than a holy heaven; for this reason all men want some way of being made holy, though naturally few at first prefer God’s way. [continue reading…]

Soul-Help Papers: Prefatory Notes

This entry is part 1 of 22 in the series Soul-Help Papers

There are many problems that come up every day in the ordinary affairs of life, but the great problems are the soul problems.  These deal directly with character and destiny.  In this book some of these, in a natural, familiar way, are taken up and discussed for the benefit of the common reader.  Longer and more philosophic papers might with this class of readers lose their interest.  Briefer articles might not sufficiently carry the information.  A book of a different character might teach you how to make more money.  The writer of these pages would rather help you to build more stately soul-mansions.  Every soul has its Tarshish ships and its St. Bernard passes. 1  The sidelights of those who have been over the road may help the reader in finding his way.  With the hope that such will be the case with every reader of these pages, this little book is committed to the great book-reading world, wherever it may go.  It is the hope of the writer that sometime in the Sweet By and By, both writer and reader shall meet and find joy and blessing in former acquaintance, though it be only by way of a book.  Till then, goodbye.

ISAIAH REID
Des Moines, Iowa 1904 [continue reading…]

The Can’t-Get-Over Places

This entry is part 16 of 22 in the series Soul-Help Papers

Rachel weeping for her children
and would not be comforted because they are not.

Matthew 2:18

“Now he is dead, wherefore should I fast?
Can I bring him back again?
I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”

2 Samuel 12:23

And Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved David.

1 Samuel 18:20

And she [Michal] despised him [David] in her heart.

2 Samuel 6:16

And Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah, took sackcloth and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night.

2 Samuel 21:10

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is,
than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.

Proverbs 15:17

“What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.”

John 13:7

“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away;
blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Job 1:21

Y

ou have probably found places in your life’s journey that you could not get over.  Things happened, as we say, that seemed bitter as death, and yet the cup would not pass, and you had to drink it; and yet having drained it to the dregs, its bitterness did not pass away from your lips, nor the old sweetness come back to your fond heart.  There was a grave in the actual cemetery and another in your deepest love.  [continue reading…]

This entry is part 7 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

Public Domain1

by
Evangelist Thomas Cook

The reason why many do not apprehend the true nature of the salvation of Jesus Christ is because they do not understand the true nature of sin. Defective views of sin lead to incorrect views of privilege. What we think of the Atonement depends greatly upon our view of the evil which made it necessary.

Without the fullest information about sin, no man can have the fullest information about himself; or, what is still more important, without understanding sin no man can ever understand God and His dealings with us. The man who has felt his guilt most deeply always appreciates most the value of Christ’s redeeming work. Sin has many aspects, but there are two primary forms in which it exists. We can form no adequate conception of its nature, nor of the remedy God has provided, unless we look at it from these two points of view. We must discriminate between guilt and depravity. [continue reading…]