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JANUARY 3 2016

Unto Us a Child is Born

Part Three

 

Our Scripture reading is Isaiah 9:6.           

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
(NKJV)

 

[I. Introduction] The last two weeks we considered some of the glorious titles of Christ as found in this passage.  Many modern translations combine the names “Wonderful” and “Counselor” and make “wonderful” an adjective, modifying Counselor. This is a possible translation and, of course, Jesus is a wonderful Counselor! Just as many translations keep the nouns “Wonderful” and “Counselor” separate such as: KJV, NKJV, Young’s Literal, The Living Bible, The Geneva Bible, and the ASV. One argument in favor of the names as separate titles is that when two nouns appear side by side in Hebrew and if one is intended to modify the other then the one that functions as the modifier usually appears second. But “Counselor” appears second, so many think that the titles should be separate. Both translations communicate equally great truth about our Lord so we have no need to be concerned about what Isaiah’s intent was. We have taken the names separately and have seen that:

 

  • He is wonderful in his moral glory
  • In his love
  • In his care, and in his
  • Unchangeableness.

 

We also saw that He is a Counselor.

 

  • He was a Counselor with God in creation.
  • He was a Counselor with God in salvation.
  • He is a Counselor to us necessarily, faithfully, and sweetly.

 

We saw that He is called the Mighty God because He is the Mighty God! Some groups like the Jehovah Witnesses and Iglesio Ni Christo deny this, saying that Jesus was created, but this denial was considered, rightly so, a heresy by the early church. It was a heresy then and it is still a heresy. Our mythological figure, Santa Claus, was patterned after a real man, Saint Nicholas. St. Nicholas was an elder or bishop of the city of Myra in the fourth century. He was a contemporary of Arius who was the person who began the heresy that Jesus Christ was created. At the famous Council of Nicea in 325 AD (where we get our beloved Nicean Creed) Saint Nicholas punched Arius in the face. If a doctrine can provoke Santa Claus to punch somebody, you know it must be bad!

 

We learned a way to prove that Jesus is God. Not by quoting verses, but by looking at the big picture. We considered the manner in which Jesus spoke and what he said about himself.

 

[II.] His name will be called Everlasting Father. One will also see Eternal Father here. In what way is Jesus a Father?

 

[A.] He is a Father in the sense that He is the author of the everlasting ages. The age we are in now and the ages yet to come are being played out in accordance with the will of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth have been given to me.” All authority! This includes the authority to plan and to execute the desired outcomes of every individual, every nation, and every age. Jesus is the Author of the everlasting ages.

 

[B.] He is a Father in the sense that a Father cares for and provides for his children. Since the names Wonderful, Counselor, and Prince of Peace have to do with relationship, so too does the sense of Father take on a more personal aspect. Indeed, this is why the first member of the Godhead, God the Father, reveals Himself as a Father – because He cares for and provides for his children. The second person of the Godhead, Jesus Christ, likewise cares for those to whom he has given eternal life. Therefore, he is also designated Father, yet distinct from God the Father.

 

I did not fully understand love until I had a child of my own. When Kai was born 17 years ago I experienced a different sort of love than I had known before. There was a strong sense of protection and care that changed who I was. Love has that power. That is the love that Jesus has for us! He cares for us, provides for us, and protects us.

 

[C.] In what way is He eternal? He is eternal or everlasting in His own Self. The author of Hebrews says that he is “without beginning of days nor end of life.” (7:3) The next verse in Isaiah shows that He will sit on the throne of David forever.

 

            Of the increase of his government and of peace

                        there will be no end,

            on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

                        to establish it and to uphold it

            with justice and with righteousness

                        from this time forth and forevermore.

            The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

(Isaiah 9:7 ESV)

 

He is both eternal in His being and in His rulership.

 

[D.] The same phenomenon regarding whether to translate the first part of the list of names as “Wonderful, Counselor” or “Wonderful Counselor” is present here.  This name can also be translated Father of eternity. And so it is in Young’s Literal and Darby. If that is Isaiah’s intent then the meaning may be that he is the Father of eternal life. Of course, the New Testament reveals that, indeed, He is the Author of eternal life to all them that believe.

 

And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, (Hebrews 5:9, NKJV)

 

            and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.

(Acts 3:15 ESV)

 

Hence, Jesus is both the eternal Father and the Father of eternity.

 

[III.] His name will be called the Prince of Peace.

 

There was a young man who desired to know the greatest treasure that a person could have in this life. So he decided to ask the most successful people he knew what they considered the greatest treasure. First, he asked a jeweler. “What is the greatest treasure a person can have in this life? The jeweler answered, “It is the Hope Diamond. It is the both the most beautiful and the most valued gem one could imagine. Many have sought it, but very few have owned it. It is worth over 200 million dollars, but what makes it so treasured is not its value alone but its beauty and desirability. Next, he asked a banker.”What is the greatest treasure a person can have in this life?’ The banker answered, “That is easy to answer. Friend, you see, everyone places different values on common objects of desire. What one person treasures another values but little and visa versa. Therefore, the answer is clear. Money is the greatest treasure because with it you can obtain what it is you treasure most. Next, he asked an investor. He heard the investor reply: “The greatest treasure is that which never diminishes with time. Therefore,  precious metals are the greatest treasure and the most beautiful and enduring of those is gold. Other investments, even money itself decreases in value over time. But gold always holds its value. Further it is the most ancient of treasures valued by kings and noblemen for thousands of years.” Finally, he asked a doctor. The doctor spoke: “ Friend, the greatest treasure is not something you can hold in your hand. For no matter what it is that you have, it cannot be enjoyed if you do not have your health. But, if you are healthy and robust it enables you to enjoy other things in life. Therefore, health is the greatest treasure.

   The young man was perplexed because each answer made sense. He decided to ask one last person. He noticed that the middle-aged janitor in the building where he worked was an unusual man. He always had a pleasant disposition, a smile with every greeting, and the times that he spoke with people they left with a warm feeling. The  young man had had this experience himself. So, he asked the janitor the same question. The menial worker told him an amazing story of how he had been wealthy at one time, but realized that his wealth did not bring him the satisfaction that he thought it would. He told him that his possessions were so great that he might not believe him if he told him what he had owned. He always had good health, always full of energy, and that his previous vocations included banking, investments, and he had been the CEO of a profitable company. Yet he was always concerned that his wealth and possessions would one day leave him. Then he remembered something his parents had taught him as a youth. He said, “They taught me that peace of mind was the greatest possession that a person could ever have. And that peace was not to be found in anything on earth [implication: it is found in God]. I believed them when they taught this to me. But I had forgotten it. My priorities were amiss. Then I found inner peace and am more content now than I have ever been before though I have little of the things that most men treasure. I enjoy the peace I now have more than I ever enjoyed the possessions that I once had. “

   [A.] Jesus is the Prince of Peace for individuals, people like you and me. Are you enjoying the peace that God has provided? Even as believers we can miss out on the peace of God. Regarding the peace that Jesus supplies to us as individuals, the apostle Paul had something to say in Romans:

 

            But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

(Romans 3:21-26 ESV)

 

We are justified by God’s grace as a gift.

 

Verse 24 plainly declares that we are justified, made right with God, by the grace of God and that this justification is a gift.  Christians know this, but how can our understanding of this bring us peace?

 

 [1] We need to fully apprehend the meaning of grace. Grace is, we have been told, unmerited favor. This is true. But we tend to think of this grace in terms of initial salvation alone and not in terms of our daily need of God’s grace. Many of us have memorized verse 23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But we may have forgotten that the truth in that verse still applies to us within the context of a covenant relationship with God. Having trusted in Christ for salvation we have subtly, maybe even unconsciously, reverted to obtaining God’s favor through good deeds, good behavior.  But such thinking is antithetical to the meaning of grace. It confuses grace with reward.

 

[2] We need to understand the availability of grace. Grace is not only for entrance into relationship with God, but it is for our daily lives. It is for when you wake up in the morning. It is for when you thank God for your health. But it is also for when you learn that you are not as healthy as you thought. It is for when you do a good job for your employer or turn in a good paper at school. But it is also for when you mess up at work or turn in a paper late. It is for when we are out sharing the gospel in the market or passing out tracts at an event. But it is also for when we haven’t spoken to someone about the salvation that is found in Christ when the opportunity presented itself so clearly.  It is for the love of our spouse or fiancée. But it is also for when we have spoken a harsh word to them. We need God’s grace daily. And it is there.

 

According to this passage in Romans, this grace brings with it forgiveness of sins, redemption, propitiation (appeasement of God’s wrath), and personal righteousness which Paul calls justification. Because of these marvelous things we have peace with God! Peace! The greatest treasure! This peace comes through Jesus Christ and what He accomplished on the cross. It is the only true peace and the only lasting peace.

 

When we rely not upon what we do but, rather, on what Christ has done as an expression of God’s grace then we have peace.

 

Jesus is the Prince of Peace to us individually.

 

[B.] Jesus is also the Prince of Peace among the peoples of the world. The history of the world is, to a great extent, a history of conflict, war, and hatred between different people groups.

 

Jesus, as the Prince of Peace, will bring peace to the world as a whole. The fact that he is called a prince means that he has not inherited the kingdom yet. But he will and nothing can stop that from happening. The day is coming when he will rule as the King of peace, the true Melchizedek.

 

Isaiah 2:1-4 describes the coming worldwide rule of the Prince of Peace.

 

            The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

            It shall come to pass in the latter days

                        that the mountain of the house of the LORD

            shall be established as the highest of the mountains,

                        and shall be lifted up above the hills;

            and all the nations shall flow to it,

                        and many peoples shall come, and say:

            “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,

                        to the house of the God of Jacob,

            that he may teach us his ways

                        and that we may walk in his paths.”

            For out of Zion shall go the law,

                        and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

            He shall judge between the nations,

                        and shall decide disputes for many peoples;

            and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,

                        and their spears into pruning hooks;

            nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

                        neither shall they learn war anymore.     (ESV)

 

This glorious age, where peace is found everywhere, will only be experienced by those who possess the gift of inward peace in this age. There used to be a bumper sticker that was often seen when I was a young man that read, “Visualize World Peace.” As if world peace could ever be realized simply by visualizing it. Recognizing how silly that notion was someone came up with another bumper sticker that read, “Visualize Whirled Peas.” Peace in the world will only come when the Prince comes.

 

But there is a great day coming and I desire to be part of it. Do you?

 

[IV. Conclusion and Application] If you desire to experience the peace found in the kingdom that is coming then experience the peace that Christ gives now. He is the Prince of Peace now.

 

Believe in Him and Him alone for the grace that takes away all sin that separates us from God the Father. Then repent of your sins. That means to decisively turn away from all sin and submit to the Lordship of Christ as the Mighty God and the Author of eternal life.

 

Many of you already have done this. If you have then the beginning of the new year (where we find ourselves today) is an opportune time to magnify your Christ in a greater way than you have done in 2015.

 

  • Call him Wonderful.
  • Go to him as your Counselor more often. You will gain wisdom.
  • Honor him as the Mighty God more intently. Admire him as God.
  • See him as the Everlasting Father. Appreciate him as the Author of life.
  • Experience him as the Prince of Peace daily.

 

The greater and more frequent your vision of Christ as possessing what these titles name, the greater your wonder, your wisdom, your admiration, your appreciation, and your peace.