O Come All Ye Faithful
Topic: Christmas Verse: Luke 2:16–2:18
Theme: The call to come to Christ is issued by God Himself that He might be glorified in the life of each sinner.
Introduction – this famed and favored hymn is credited to a Frenchman named John F. Wade who published the hymn in 1743, originally in Latin. It wasn’t until 1841 when an Englishman named Frederick Oakley translated stanzas 1-3, 6 of the original hymn. Stanzas 4-5 were translated some years later by Etienne Jean François Borderies to fill out the Christmas story. Stanza 5 asks the question: “Who would not love thee, loving us so dearly?” The truly faithful will come in response to these invitations even as modeled by the shepherds in Luke 2:15-16. In what sense can you come to Him? How can you obey the invitation to Come and Adore Him? … As we reflect upon this hymn, our answer finds proper expression in five different, progressive responses to the call to “come.”
I. The invitation to reflect – Isaiah 1:18
A. The Insensitivity to Sin
- We rejoice to see how that the darkness of the world’s spiritual condition was remedied by the provision of the Light of the World – Jesus Christ.
- The world is lost in sin and error, viciously cycling downward in depravity and guilt.
- Yet, while knowing the great discomfort and shame of guilt, the world has little awareness of its true problem – having been blinded to the Light through the work of Satan.
- In this text, we find God calling on sinners to consider their true problem and to come to their senses regarding their sinfulness – “’Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord …”
- Again, we see the way in which God intervenes to rescue men from their obliviousness to sin.
- Men continue to saunter wearily through life unaware of how their misery can be corrected; God steps into their pathway and invites them to reflect on their need.
B. The Indelibility of Sin
- The problem, of course, is that our sin is “indelible” – that is, impossible to remove or erase.
- The Lord declares: “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.”
- The idea here of “scarlet” literally reads: “Double dyed” – and refers to a blot that cannot be removed regardless of the effort of whatever agent might be used.
- The Lord promises that He will do something about our sin – so that we might know a condition compared to being “white as snow” or “like wool.” – cp. Ephesians 5:27.
- Thus, God invites us to reflect on our need and His willingness to cleanse us from our sin – the motivation that existed in God when He sent His Son – cp. John 3:16.
II. the iNVITATION TO REPENT – Matthew 16:24
A. The Indication of Conviction
- This next invitation is an invitation to repent – to respond to the grace of the Lord and turn from one’s sin.
- He says: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, …” – a condition that reflects a soul that has known the grace of the Lord.
- Although this passage specifically refers to discipleship, it is a clear demonstration that before one can follow Christ, they must turn from whatever direction they were pursuing independently of Christ.
- This is the essence of repentance and occurs only through the agency of God’s Spirit bringing about the conviction of sin.
- We might reason together with the Lord concerning the indelibility of our sin, but nothing will change until we turn to Christ and seek to come to Him.
B. The Insistence on Conversion
- This is the step that actualizes in one’s experience the work of God’s grace – “he must deny himself” – a reference to the point of conversion – an aorist-imperative.
- This is the point when a person declares that his/her life is something from which they would like to be delivered.
- Thus, it is impossible to repent and be reconciled to God unless there is a desire to be delivered from a sinful condition through the grace of God.
- Essentially it refers to the event of dying to self – “… and take up his cross …”
C. The Involvement in Consecration
- When a person is brought under conviction and is willing to convert through repentance, then their lives are changed.
- They are able to “follow Me” – a reference to the supernatural enabling given through the power of the Holy Spirit to live consistently with the Person of Christ Jesus.
III. the INVITATION TO REJOICE – Matthew 2:2
A. The Incentive to Worship
- Only after we have reflected on our condition as sinners and repented of that sin are we able to know the joy of reconciliation with God.
- When we recognize who this Savior is – that He is the Lord Jesus Christ – “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?”
- The majesty and glory of Christ Jesus causes the sinner to seek Him for this deliverance.
B. The Inclination to Worship
- When we understand that He is the Savior from whom we are able to be reconciled to God, we yearn to worship Him as our own personal Savior.
- The Wise Men traveled a great distance – through hardship, burden, and sacrifice – in order to have the opportunity to worship Him – “For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”
- It is unlikely that a person who is genuinely converted can casually or indifferently look on Christ.
- Rather, there is an eagerness and insatiable desire to bow down and worship this Savior as our great King and Lord.
IV. the INVITATION TO REST – Matthew 11:28
A. The Inundations of Guilt
- This is the very invitation that Christ issues – a summons to find deliverance and rest: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden …”
- Even after we are saved, we continue to struggle with our failures, sins, and compromises.
- We become weary of the struggle that life presents – the constant failure and faltering that the Christian endures throughout every waking moment.
- We strive and struggle to rise above our flesh only to find ourselves caught by encumbrances and entanglements from which we would do anything to find release.
- This weariness wears on our souls so that we become weary in well-doing, teetering on the brink of fainting, and disillusioned that success will ever be found – Romans 7:24-25
B. The Influence of Grace
- However, Jesus Christ bids us that we “Come to Me … and I will give you rest.”
- That weariness finds “rest” when we trust Christ instead of our own performance and attainments.
- When we are able to rely on the grace of God, we find ourselves free and we can rest.
- This is not a statement that advocates laziness or inattentiveness to the condition of our souls – but an ability to rejoice in the reality that we are not our own saviors … Jesus Christ is our Savior, and He is mighty to save!
V. the invitation to reward – Matthew 25:34
A. The Preparation of the Reward
- We are told here that God is currently at work in preparing for us a Kingdom wherein our blessing will be made complete – “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
- This is described in God’s Word as the current work of Christ Jesus as He enjoys the glory in Heaven – cp. John 14:2
- He came the first time in order to prepare us to go to the place He has promised to us; He is now preparing that place for us.
- We ourselves participate in the preparation of the reward as we store up treasures in heaven – cp. Matthew 6:20
B. The Presentation of the Reward
- We are told that the rewards will be presented to us in glory as we “inherit the kingdom”
- As we are bid “come” by the Lord to inherit this blessed reward, we are granted the joy unspeakable to being ushered into the very presence of God.
- This might be through death or through being “caught up together with Him in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” when He comes in the clouds at the rapture of the Church.
- Either way, we are presented to the Father as blameless, fully conformed to the Son of God – and are given the reward directly by the Father.
- This ultimate end is the very purpose for the incarnation of Christ Jesus – that He might reconcile us to God and prepare us to bring glory to God through the redemption we enjoy in Him.