July 23, 2017 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:
Topic: Peace Verse: Luke 2:13–2:14
Theme: Peace on earth is attainable only when men are reconciled to God for the glory of God.
I. The Birth of Jesus Amplifies God’s Glory
A. The Occasion of their Worship – “Glory”
1. Having provided the announcement of what had happened in Bethlehem, the Holy Spirit provides a record of a rare glimpse into the activity of the angelic worship of God.
2. We are told that “a multitude of the heavenly host” appeared out of nowhere in view of the shepherds.
a. “multitude” [πλῆθος] is a reference to an unspecified large number – commonly referred to as “a bunch;” – a plethora!
b. “of the heavenly host” – [στρατιά] a “partitive genitive” meaning that this was a representative group of the rest of the angelic army – a “select” group out of the whole.
3. This “heavenly host” is occasionally viewed by the authors of Scripture – cp. Daniel 7:10
4. This view of the angelic praise provides an example of the appropriate response to the birth of Christ – those who comprehend its significance provide a pattern for others who come to comprehend.
5. The content of their praise is to highlight the essential majesty of God that is displayed through the act of the incarnation of the Messiah – “Glory” [δόξα] – a recognition of the honor, greatness, splendor.
6. This is a declaration of the state of being in which God exists – a resplendent, magnificent manifestation of His essential perfections – the sum of all His attributes, observed in a way that is visually overwhelming.
a. This is the very thing of which Jesus emptied Himself when He was incarnate – cp. Philippians 2:6-7
b. It is also the very thing that Jesus yearns to once again own – cp. John 17:4-5.
7. The angelic host celebrate the reality of the glory of God that exists in heaven even as the Son of God emptied Himself of that glory for the purpose of magnifying the glory to the Father.
a. Jesus Himself provides the “knowledge of the glory of God” – cp. 2 Corinthians 4:6
b. Jesus was empowered through the Holy Spirit to the end that the glory of God would be placed on display – John 11:4
c. Jesus is exalted so that “every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God …” – Philippians 2:11
8. Thus, the angels possess an awareness that the “glory” of God is being exponentially advanced by means of the fulfillment of God’s redemptive purposes through the incarnation of Christ.
9. The angels see this as the perception of the essential attributes character of God being promoted through Christ – cp. Romans 9:23
10. Ultimately our salvation is what allows the glory of God to be furthered – cp. Ephesians 1:12-14.
11. Thus, the angels are worshipping God the Father by extolling the manifestation of Who and What He is on the basis of what He has done in initiating the fulfillment of the Promise.
12. The glory of God is the aim of all that God does – His motivation is to bring Himself glory – Psalm 79:9; Isaiah 48:11.
13. Our own praise of God is focused through the Lord Jesus Christ – and fueled by our awareness of what He has done for us.
B. The Object of their Worship – “in the Highest, God”
1. The phrase “in the highest” – is a most interesting reference – in that it can refer to either the sphere of the heavenlies – that realm in which the spiritual powers exist, or it can be a reference to God Himself.
2. “highest” [ὕψιστος] is the same term that is used substantively as a reference to God – cp. Luke 1:32, 35, 76; 6:35
3. It seems, however, that it necessary refers to the sphere in that it is antithetical to “earth” even as God is antithetical to Men.
4. This is consistent with what God intends – to raise the awareness of His glory in the heavenlies – cp. Ephesians 3:10.
5. It’s amazing to realize that the worship of which God is worthy reaches throughout the heavenlies; it ought then to also fill the earth – and our desire is that it extend to those who have yet to hear and understand: “Mission exists because worship doesn’t!” (John Piper) – Habakkuk 2:14
- How has Christ coming proven to amplify God’s glory in your experience?
- Why is God so very committed to His own glory?
- How should your personal desire to ascribe glory to God compare to that of the angels? What should change in your approach??
II. The Birth of Jesus Assures Peace with God
A. The Objective of Peace
1. The glory of God already exists in Heaven through the perfection of God and the wisdom of His decree to redeem.
2. However, “on earth” the glory of God has been significantly shrouded by both the eternal purpose as well as the devastation of sin.
3. Men constantly “fall short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23 through their sin.
4. Through various deceptions, the glory of God is something from which men have been blinded through Satanic opposition – 2 Corinthians 4:4
5. Prior to the arrival of the Messiah, there was no means by which peace could be attained – all was enmity and strife while God’s wrath burned toward men – cp. Ephesians 2:3
6. The “path of peace” was unknown by mankind apart from the redemptive initiative by God – cp. Romans 3:10-17
7. Nevertheless, God’s provision of the Messiah is the solution – and the angels know it, providing in their anthem of worship a declaration of the mission for which Jesus was sent – to bring “peace” between God and men.
8. The fruit of the incarnation is peace – cp. Luke 1:79
9. “Peace” [εἰρήνη] refers to the state of harmony or concord, a sense of the ability to endorse and cooperate with another – it is not simply a lack of hostility but refers to the presence of something positive.
a. It serves as the condition in which God’s wrath is turned away and his grace extends to those formerly alienated from Him.
b. It celebrates a new status before God – a change from enmity and rebellion to one of love and endorsement.
c. However, now that the Christ-child was given, the angels knew that “peace” with God was possible – through Him – cp. Romans 5:1
d. Jesus is the sole source of the provision of peace – Who, in fact, Himself is our peace – cp. Ephesians 2:14.
B. The Opportunity for Peace.
1. This peculiar phrase “among men with whom He is pleased” – literally translated: “among well-pleasing men” [ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας].
2. This word here the noun form of the word, when used as a verb in reference to God, always refers to the delight that He takes in His Son Christ Jesus – cp. Luke 3:22; Matthew 17:5.
3. Jesus is the standard or paradigm for that in which God’s soul takes delight.
4. However, God is pleased to enable men to share in the pleasure that He takes in His Son.
5. Thus, men are able to share in the pleasure that God has in Christ by themselves being in Christ – cp. Ephesians 1:5.
6. The only way that a person can be pleasing to God is to be found in Christ by faith – cp. Hebrews 10:38.
7. This is the opportunity for which Christ is born and the reason that the angels celebrated the birth of Christ.
- How do you understand “peace?” How is it different from a lack of hostilities?
- What is required before peace with God can be known?
- What does peace with God say about God’s attitude toward you?
- How are you preserving/disturbing peace with God?