The Great Adventure and Our Great Companion

SERIES TEXT: John 10:10 | READING TEXT: John 14:15-31

The Christian life was never designed to be a “walk in the park”. In fact, it is better understood as a “trek through the jungle.” The Bible never describes our Christian experience as a playground, but rather, a battleground.

Too many people have been lied to by preachers who promised that God would give them a life of abundance, health, and prosperity if they trusted Christ. This is simply not the case. The Bible uses the following words to describe the Christian life: war (Romans 7:23), warfare (2 Corinthians 10:4), wrestle (Ephesians 6:12), fight (1 Timothy 6:12), tribulation (John 16:33), and hardness (2 Timothy 2:3). This is a far cry from the peaceful, trouble-free “gospel message” peddled by prosperity preachers today.

Were we alone to fight in this raging battle, we would have good reason for discouragement and hopelessness. But this is not the case! When we were enlisted into this battle, we were also given the greatest of companions – God Himself, living within, the third person of the Godhead- the Holy Spirit.

There is one immutable reality – all humans will at one point or another fail us. Even those with the best intentions – our fellow Christians, pastors, and friends – will not always be there when we need them. Speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” (John 14:16). Our great companion in this great adventure is none other than God Himself. He will always be there because He lives within. This is a remarkable reality, and one that should fill us with hope, joy, and peace despite the terrain that lies before us.

In this message, we will consider three important aspects as it relates to our Great Companion:

  1. The Person of the Holy Spirit
  2. The Titles of the Holy Spirit
  3. The Works of the Holy Spirit
The subject before us must be addressed carefully, reverently and biblically. The study of the Holy Spirit (Pneumatology) is one that has been severely assaulted and misrepresented today, and we must be ever so careful that we too do no“tamper with God’s Word” (2 Corinthians 4:2).
Join me as I preach a message entitled: “The Great Adventure & Our Great Companion.”

Alien Righteousness

My sin-sick soul in death was held,

Without remission, hope expelled.

Self-righteousness -my only plea;

Condemnation, God’s decree.


All effort, merit on my part,

Could not atone or cleanse my heart.

A lifeless corpse, a scarlet stain;

A darkened mind, a tongue profane.


A slave to sin without recourse;

Heinous crimes and no remorse.

Could hope there be for one so lost?

Drowning fast in tempest tossed.


A wooing comes from Spirit strange,

And calls me to an inward change.

A light is dawned upon my soul;

The gospel bright in full control.


My only hope is sovereign grace;

Substitution in my place.

A remedy outside of me,

The blood of Christ- my only plea.


A robe of righteousness is given;

All trespasses and sins forgiven.

In Christ alone salvation found;

Where reigning sin did once abound


The best I had was filthy rags;

Futile efforts and empty brags.

Now in Christ I’m justified,

The Father’s wrath is satisfied.


A life now lived for Christ my King,

In fiery trials and suffering.

But nothing can my soul undress,

Clothed in alien righteousness.

Away from the Manger

An empty manger at night under the fog.

TEXT: Galatians 3:23-4:7

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of Christmas for believers and non-believers alike is the celebration of the baby in the manger without the rest of the message.

Honestly, Santa does not worry me anymore; the decorated trees cause me no grief; Rudolph, presents, snowmen, mistletoe, and even the ridiculous songs about merriment, jingle bells, and kissing Santa Claus are of little consequence.

What upsets me greatly is when people make peripheral comments about the “little Lord Jesus” in the manger who does not cry, who is harmless, who is cute, and who really does not mean much at all. O that bothers me greatly!

What these people fail to see is that this little baby is going to ride in on a white horse one day and banish them to eternal hell because they did not believe His gospel. People love the baby but hate the man. They appreciate the manger but despise His message. The child excites them, the cross infuriates them.

Today my intention is to lead us away from the manger, not because it is unimportant, but because it is only the beginning of God’s plan of salvation. I am preaching a message I have entitled: Away from the Manger.

Before I pray, I have some important introductory comments to make about the text before us.

The Book of Galatians was written to correct some very dangerous heresies that had entered the early church. It is perhaps Paul’s “sternest letter” and also his clearest in terms of the true gospel message.

The church at Galatia (as well as others) had moved away from the truth that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. They had added the works of the law (such as circumcision, maintaining ceremonial law, etc) as prerequisites for salvation – something that we refer to as “legalism”.

The message of Galatians transcends time and is relevant to the church in every epoch of time. In our context, some “churches” demand membership, baptism, perfectionism, maintaining the sacraments, and many other legalistic practices before they believe someone can be saved.

Paul wrote, “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Gal.2:16).

The text before us is dealing with the role of the Old Testament law before Christ came, and then the transition that took place after He instigated the New Covenant. 

Let’s take a few moments to understand the context.

Galatians 3:23 We were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.

  • Speaking of the Children of Israel (Abraham’s physical descendants).
  • The law could not set anyone free, in fact, it passed sentence and judgment on all.
  • Until faith came, none could truly be saved (explain OT saints “justified by faith” Rom.4:1-12).

Cf. Romans 8:1-4

Galatians 3:24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.

  • “Guardian” (school master) – In Ancient Greece, this referred to a slave who was responsible for taking care of the master’s children until adulthood. The tutor escorted them to and from school and watched over their behaviour at home. These guardians were often very strict and were not afraid of disciplining the children as they had been delegated this responsibility.
  • In this context, the law was our tutor which, by pointing out our sins and their consequences, was escorting us to Christ.
  • The purpose of the law was to ultimately free us from the law by bringing us to Christ who fulfilled the law.
  • Nobody can be justified by keeping the law which is why Christ came. Only through faith in Christ can anybody be declared righteous.

Galatians 3:25-26 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

  • The coming of Christ brought freedom from the previous administration (the law), but it also changed our status from slaves that are captive, to sons and daughters that are free!

Galatians 3:27-29 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

  • “Baptised” – (not by water) but identified with Christ (or saved).
  • To be saved is to have “put on” Christ. This speaks of an unbreakable spiritual union.
  • To be positionally “in Christ” means that race, social status, and gender are all irrelevant when it comes to justification. The door is open to all who would believe by faith: “red, brown, yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight….”
  • To be “in Christ” is to be “grafted into the vine” which makes all of us the offspring of Abraham and the heirs of the promise, “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed…” (Gen.22:18).

Galatians 4:1-3 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.

  • The point Paul is making here is that no matter how great the estate; no matter how wealthy his father; no matter how elevated a rank he may be raised on the moment that he enters on his inheritance, yet until that time he is in the condition of a servant. Though he be appointed by his father’s will heir of all his possessions yet till he arrive at the legal age he is master of nothing, and does not differ from one of the common domestics.
  • The “elementary principles of the world” is a Jewish phrase and simply means: the rudiments and principles of the Jewish religion.

Adam Clarke wrote: The apostle intimates that the law was not the science of salvation, it was only the elements or alphabet of it; and in the Gospel this alphabet is composed into a most glorious system of Divine knowledge: but as the alphabet is nothing of itself, unless compounded into syllables, words, sentences, and discourses; so the law, taken by itself, gives no salvation; it contains indeed the outlines of the Gospel, but it is the Gospel alone that fills up these outlines.

Now with that introduction and context, let’s pray and then we will look into the text laid out for us today.

POINT #1: God’s Punctuality

“But when the fullness of time had come…” (Galatians 4:4a).

Have you ever been tempted to wish you had been born in a different time period?
Perhaps when Jesus was on earth, or during the reformation, or when revivals were breaking out in America, England, and Scotland.

I have often imagined being on Mt. Carmel with Elijah when the fire from heaven fell or watching the Children of Israel pass through the Red Sea. Fascinating moments in history!

Let us consider a few realities about time:

  • God created space and time (Genesis 1:1).
  • Being the creator of time and space, He is also the authority over it:

Cf. Acts 1:6-7; Acts 17:26

  • God exists outside of time (from everlasting to everlasting – Psalm 90:2)
  • Jesus died at the right time:

Romans 5:6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

  • Jesus Christ is unchanged by time (not physically, but characteristically):

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Understanding the text:

  • “The fullness of time” – This refers to God’s appointed time. The moment in redemptive history decided upon by God alone before the foundation of the world. This was the time agreed and fixed upon between God and his Son from all eternity.
  • The phrase speaks of the “right time”, the appointed time, the best time.
  • It was the appointed end of the “legal dispensation” and the introduction of a new dispensation by the Son of God Himself.


  • Whenever God does something it is ALWAYS at the right time. He may not work to our timeframe, but He makes all things beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
  • God never promised to save your loved ones, but if He does, it will be at the right time.
  • Single people in the room, God may not have called you to marriage, but if He has, the right person will appear at the right time.
  • God is never late; He has not forgotten; He does care about you; He will do all that He wills in His time.

Psalm 115:3 Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases (and whenever He pleases).

POINT #2: God’s Plan

“God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law…” (Galatians 4:4b)

God’s plan is herewith set forth in three specific and profound statements:

1. God Sent Forth His Son

“Sent forth” is one word in the original and speaks of one given a mission who is then dismissed to fulfil it.

In this sense God commissioned His Son to bring about redemption and then dismissed Him from the heavenly corridors of power and glory to fulfil it.

“Sent forth His Son”

This implies that the Son of God had an existence before his incarnation; The Saviour is often represented as sent into the world, and as coming forth from God

John 16:28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.

Furthermore, this text implies that the Son of God was more than a mere concept or force because only a person could be sent on this mission.

The heaven-sent Son was the plan of the godhead forged before time began.

Alexander MacLaren: Jesus, like all other great men, is a product of His age, and the immediate result of the conditions under which He appeared. But when we look far beyond the manger of Bethlehem into the depths of Eternity and see God so loving the world as to give His Son, we cannot but recognise that He has intervened in the course of human history and that the mightiest force in the development of man is the eternal Son whom He sent to save the world.

2. Born of a Woman

On the face of it, this phrase seems a little redundant.
Why explain to us that the Son of God was born of a woman?


This text is building on the previous premise that the Son of God is eternal, and the second person of the Godhead (the Word that was with God and Word that was God).

With this in mind, Paul wants the Galatians to be assured of the fact that the Son who is truly God became truly man. Two distinct natures in one person – human and divine.

If Jesus had only been a man, it would be gratuitous to say that he was born of a woman!

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Virgin Birth

Although not directly mentioned, I believe that there is a sense in which His remarkable birth is here implied too. This expression witnesses to His unique Person and the unique mode of His birth.

Luke 1:35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.

In the first clause we have the word “sent” and in the second we have the word “born”. A great mystery exists between this glorious juxtaposition. We have the Son of God and now, the Son of Man (woman).

3. Born Under the Law

If it was not enough that God took on human flesh, now consider the fact that He who created all laws, is born under the law in order that He might fulfil it.

The lawmaker who existed outside of time and space was born in human form, submitted to the laws He created within time and space. It is absurd; it is beyond reason; It sounds like a fantasy; It is mysteriously glorious.

Why did the Son submit Himself to the law?

As Son of God, the Lord Jesus would never have been under the law; He was the One who gave it. But, in condescending grace, He put Himself under the law that He had made, in order that He might magnify it in His life, and bear its curse in His death.

The law demanded a price from those who failed to keep it—the price of death. Before God could bring men into the wonderful position of sonship, this price had to be paid. So the Lord Jesus, coming into the world as a member of the human race and of the Jewish nation, paid the price which the law demanded.

Because He is God, His death was infinite in value, that is, it was sufficient to pay for any number of sinners. Because He was Man, He could die as a substitute for man.

One Commentator Wrote: “Christ, by nature Son of God, became Son of man, that we, by nature sons of man, might become sons of God. O Wonderful exchange!”

POINT #3: God’s Purchase

“To redeem those who were under the law…” (Galatians 4:5).

“Redeem” – To purchase, buy back, atone for, release on receipt of ransom paid.”

Redemption necessitates payment. Since the guilty cannot ransom themselves, there must be another who, untainted by Adam’s sin nature, can offer Himself in the place of law breakers, and thereby procure salvation for those who are captive to sin.

The Son of God, born of Mary, a Jew who met all the requirements of the law completely and perfectly was sent to set free those who were bound by the law.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Although the means of redemption is not here explained, we know that it came about through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

John MacArthur: His sinlessness made Him the unblemished sacrifice for sins, who “fulfilled all righteousness,” i.e., perfectly obeyed God in everything. That perfect righteousness is what is imputed to those who believe in Him.

Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

POINT #4: God’s Progeny

“So that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:5).

The transition from slaves of sin to sons of God is here complete.

God’s plan before the foundation of the world was to redeem those whom He elected to salvation, though children of wrath by nature (Eph 2:3), now children of God by adoption!

John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

Ephesians 1:5 He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Ephesians 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.


  • To focus on a baby in a manger is to miss the message of the gospel.
  • It is essential we appreciate the entire message of redemption.

Some questions for your consideration:

  • Are you trusting in God’s timing in all things?
  • Do you understand God’s plan of redemption?
  • Have you believed by faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ the Son of God?
  • Do you believe that he is truly God and truly man?
  • Do you believe that He was born of a virgin?
  • Are you a child of God?








Let me close with this poem by Walter C. Smith called: Earth was waiting, spent and restless:

Earth was waiting, spent and restless,

With a mingled hope and fear;

And the faithful few were sighing,

“Surely, Lord, the day is near;

The desire of all the nations,

It is time He should appear.”

Still the gods were in their temples,

But the ancient faith had fled;

And the priests stood by their altars

Only for a piece of bread;

And the Oracles were silent,

And the Prophets all were dead.

In the sacred courts of Zion,

Where the Lord had His abode,

There the money-changers trafficked,

And the sheep and oxen trod;

And the world, because of wisdom,

Knew not either Lord or God.


Then the spirit of the Highest

On a virgin meek came down,

And He burdened her with blessing,

And He pained her with renown;

For she bare the Lord’s Anointed

For His cross and for His crown.

Earth for Him had groaned and travailed,

Since the ages first began;

For in Him was hid the secret

That through all the ages ran—

Son of Mary, Son of David,

Son of God, and Son of Man

Understanding Justification

READING TEXT: Galatians 1-2
PREACHING TEXT: Philippians 2:15-20


The Book of Galatians Overview

  • Author: Paul the Apostle (1:1)
  • Written approx. AD49

The churches of Galatia were made up of both Jew and Gentile converts.

Paul’s purpose in writing this letter to them was to confirm them in the faith, especially concerning justification by faith alone, apart from the works of the law of Moses.

Galatians was written because the churches in the region were facing a theological crisis. The all-important truth of justification by faith rather than human works was being denied by the Judaisers – legalistic Jews who insisted that Christians must keep the Mosaic Law.

In particular, the Judaisers insisted on circumcision as a requirement for Gentiles who wished to be saved. In other words, convert to Judaism first, and then you are eligible to become a Christian. When Paul learned that this heresy was being taught to the Galatian churches, he wrote this epistle to emphasise our liberty in Christ and to counter the perversion of the gospel that the Judaisers promoted.

Galatians is God’s admonition against legalism of every and any description. The Law is not discredited, despised, or disregarded. Its majesty, perfection, demands, fullness, and purpose are maintained. Yet these very qualities make it utterly impossible for man to come this route to God. Another way is opened — which entirely bypasses law — for man to be justified before God. The new route is by faith. Justification by faith is the theme, with the emphasis upon faith.

Practical Application

One of the main themes of the book of Galatians is found in 3:11: “The righteous shall live by faith.” We must stand firm in this truth. Any compromise with legalism or the mixture of human effort and the grace of God for salvation leads to heresy. If we could be saved through the keeping of the Law, then Jesus did not need to die (Galatians 2:21). Trying to save ourselves nullifies grace.

Who were the Judaisers?

A Judaiser taught that, in order for a Christian to truly be right with God, he must conform to the Mosaic Law. Circumcision, especially, was promoted as necessary for salvation. Gentiles had to become Jewish proselytes first, and then they could come to Christ. The doctrine of the Judaisers was a mixture of grace (through Christ) and works (through the keeping of the Law). This false doctrine was dealt with in Acts 15 and strongly condemned in the book of Galatians.

With that introduction, join me as I preach a message entitled: Understanding Justification.

The Gospel Abolishes Racial Prejudice

Galatians 2:7-16; Galatians 3:27-29; Romans 3:9-20; Colossians 3:11.

The problem surrounding the churches of Galatia was the false teaching that gentiles needed to become “Jewish” before they could experience the new birth in Christ.

This heresy placed a stumbling block before every potential Christian and brought bondage rather than freedom in Christ.

The New Testament is very clear that there is no difference between the Jew, Greek, gentile, Barbarian, Scythian, and any other people group when it comes to salvation.

There is no racial prejudice with God, nor is he a respecter of persons.

It was always God’s intention to diversify His church. Unfortunately, many have tried to establish segregated gatherings based on race, age, common interests etc. This completely inverts God’s order for the New Testament church. The unifying reality within the local church is not style, social status, wealth, musical prowess, or occupation, it is Christ.

Paul writes,for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal.3:26-28).

Justification Cannot be Achieved through Works of the Law

Galatians 2:16-21; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:20; Titus 3:4-5

Definition: Justification

This basic Greek word describes a judge declaring an accused person not guilty and therefore innocent before the law. Throughout Scripture, it refers to God’s declaring a sinner not guilty and fully righteous before Him by imputing to him the divine righteousness of Christ and imputing the person’s sin to his sinless Saviour for punishment.

What was the purpose of the law? It was the straight edge that showed us how crooked we were. It was never God’s intention that we would be made righteous by keeping the law because He knew we couldn’t.

Consider Romans 8:3-4: “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Paul wrote, “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Gal.3:24).

MacArthur: The Greek word for “guardian” denotes a slave whose duty it was to take care of a child until adulthood. The tutor escorted the children to and from school and watched over their behaviour at home. Tutors were often strict disciplinarians, causing those under their care to yearn for the day when they would be free from their tutor’s custody. The law was our tutor which, by showing us our sins, was escorting us to Christ.

The “doctrine” of the Judaisers demanded works of the law as a precursor to salvation in Christ.

Turn to Acts 15:1-11.


Today we have “churches”, denominations, schisms, cults, and splinter groups all teaching a legalistic gospel. Some demand baptism, confirmation, the sacraments, church membership, an ecstatic experience, and many other unbiblical prerequisites for salvation.

Paul wanted to protect the gospel of Jesus Christ from false doctrine which would bring great bondage, and so should we.

As we preach the gospel, we need to be very careful not to add anything to the free grace of Christ. The Pharisees did this and turned people into “twice as much a child of hell” (Matt.23:15).

Justification is by Faith Alone in Christ Alone

Galatians 2:16; Romans 5:1; Acts 13:39 (freed = justified).

The doctrine of justification found in the Scripture teaches us that the only means of being right with God is through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.

A works-based, law-keeping attempt at salvation is rooted in pride. Justification by grace through faith in Christ alone is incredibly humbling. This is why so many balk at the simplicity of Christianity. As human beings we WANT to work for our rescue, but the gospel teaches us that we can do nothing but receive God’s gift of salvation.

The good news of salvation in Christ is only effective for those who STOP trying to earn it their own way, and trust in the finished work of Jesus’ death and resurrection for them. Religion says “do”, Christianity says, “done”.


Stop and ponder the wonder of justification: We were unworthy, hell-deserving, condemned, hopeless, helpless, degenerate, desperate, wicked, unforgiven, destitute, despairing, depraved, and dead.

By grace alone we were made alive; By grace alone we were quickened. By grace alone we were regenerated. By grace alone we were adopted. By grace alone we were washed. By grace alone we were redeemed. By grace alone we were liberated. By grace alone we are now seated in heavenly places, and we await the Saviour from heaven who brought about our rescue!

1 Corinthians 6:9-11-“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

The Law no Longer Condemns the Justified

Galatians 2:19; Romans 6:14; Romans 7:4

In Galatians 2:19, Paul makes rather a striking statement: “For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.”

This concept is best understood like a person on death row who is executed for committing a capital crime. Once he has been executed, the law has no further claim on him. So it is with the believer who has died in Christ (who paid the penalty for his sins in full). Justice has been satisfied, and he is forever free from any further penalty.

Another helpful example is of a woman, once married and bound to her husband, ceases to be so bound when death interposes, and may be lawfully married to another husband. So by believing in Christ, we are considered dead with him to sin and the law, and now alive (and betrothed) to Him through the resurrection.

The Old Me is Dead

Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:1-11 (MUST READ!)

When first we come to Christ the old sin nature which exercised control over us is destroyed. This does not mean we do not sin, but it does mean we no longer HAVE to sin.

Christ’s death killed our sinful nature and His resurrection made us new creatures who are no longer bound by sin.

Although we still live in the flesh, which is very motivated to sin, we are no longer dominated by our sin nature. In Christ, we have been set free, and with His power can overcome sin.

This does not mean we will ever reach perfection in this life, but it does mean we can “mortify the deeds of the flesh” every day and live in victory.


Perhaps the strongest application is found in Romans 6:12-23

Why are we yielding our members (bodies) to sin?

Because we want to, not because we have to!

Christ Lives in Me

Galatians 2:20; Colossians 4:4

The remarkable reality is that Jesus Christ lives within every believer. Obviously, this is not meant in a physical way, but spiritually. The Spirit of Christ indwells every individual who has died to sin through Christ’s death, and has been raised to new life through His resurrection.

This fact is attested to in many places in the Bible:

Ephesians 3:17 – so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

Colossians 1:27 – To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

1 John 3:24 – Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.


  • I am not my own I am bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20)
  • The life I live is empowered by Christ within (Galatians 2:20)
  • Everything about my “new existence” is about Christ (Philippians 1:21)
      • Explain business structure change – new entity.
  • It is my responsibility to live a life that honours Christ (Philippians 1:20)


Keeping Scripture in balance:

Galatians 2:16 (justified by faith) & James 2:18-24 (justified by works)!

Shepherd-ology: An Interactive Study of God as our Shepherd


  • It has been a HUGE week for me.
  • I have experienced immense attack both physically and spiritually.
  • I’m exhausted and have felt like a failure.

As always, God broke through these feelings and brought truth to light.

Theology is so important in our lives because even when we are down, the truth about God lives within and is stirred up by the Spirit of God.

One truth that really helped me relates to God as our shepherd.

This morning I would like us to take some time to understand this truth in a little more detail. This will be an interactive study on God as our shepherd. We will trace this truth through the Scriptures before we partake of communion together.

I’m sure we are somewhat familiar with Psalm 23 which is the most exhaustive passage on this subject, and we will look at that as part of this study.

I have entitled this little study: “Shepherd-ology”

DISCUSSION: Describe a Shepherd in Bible Times

The dress of shepherd lad was a simple tunic of cotton that was girded around his body by a leathern girdle, and his outer garment, called aba, was often of camel’s hair, like that of John the Baptist (Matt. 3:4). The aba kept the boy warm, was able to shed the rain, and at night was used as a blanket in which to wrap himself.

This is a bag made of dried skin. When he left home to go and tend the sheep, his mother would put into it some bread, cheese, dried fruit, and probably some olives. It was into this bag that David placed the five smooth stones when he went to battle with the giant Goliath (1Sam. 17:40).

It was often made of oak wood and had a knob on the end of it. Into this knob nails were sometimes driven so as to make a better weapon. It was very useful for protection, and no shepherd would be without it. This was the rod that David used when protecting his sheep from wild animals (1Sam. 17:34-36). He mentions both the rod and the staff in his Shepherd Psalm (Psa. 23:4).

Interesting: The sceptre, which the ancient kings of the East usually had with them, had its origin in the shepherd’s rod. Kings were considered to be shepherds of their people. Thus, the sceptre, or rod, of the king became a symbol of protection, power, and authority.

David mentions the staff along with the rod in his Shepherd Psalm (Psa. 23:4.). It is a stick five or six feet long and sometimes but not always has a crook at the end of it. It was used like Western men would use a cane or walking stick. It is useful in handling the sheep, and also for protection.

It was a simple device, being composed of two strings of sinew, rope, or leather, and a receptacle of leather to receive the stone. It was swung a time or two around the head and then was discharged by letting go one of the strings. The shepherd, in addition to using his sling against wild animals or robbers, found it very handy in directing the sheep. A stone could be dropped close to a sheep that was lagging behind and startle it into coming along with the rest of the flock. Or if one would get away in another direction, then a stone would be slung so as to drop just beyond the straying sheep, and thus bring him back. It was the shepherd’s sling that young David used in slaying the giant Goliath (1Sam. 17:40-49).

A dual-piped flute of reed was generally carried by the shepherd. It is true that minor strains of music come from this flute, but the heart of the shepherd was stirred, and the sheep of the flock were refreshed by the invigorating music that came from this simple instrument. There can be little question, but that David used such an instrument when he was with his flock, in the same way the shepherd lads have done for centuries around Bethlehem.

Care of sick or wounded sheep. The shepherd is always on the lookout for members of his flock that need personal attention. Sometimes a lamb suffers from the rays of the sun, or its body may have been badly scratched by some thornbush. The most common remedy he uses with these sheep is olive oil, a supply of which he carries in a ram’s horn Perhaps David was thinking of such an experience when he wrote of the LORD, “You anoint my head with oil” (Psalm 23:5)

The love of the shepherd for his sheep is best seen when times of special need call forth unusual acts of care for members of the flock. An example: Crossing a stream of water.
This process is most interesting. The shepherd leads the way into the water and across the stream. Those sheep who always walk closely with the shepherd, plunge boldly into the water, and are soon across. Others of the flock enter the stream with hesitation and alarm. Not being close to their guide, they may miss the fording place and be carried down the river a distance but will normally be able to clamber ashore. The little lambs are often heard to bleat pitifully as they leap and plunge. Some manage to get across, but if one is swept away, then the shepherd leaps quickly into the stream and rescues it, carrying it in his bosom to the shore. When they all arrive over the stream, the lambs will gambol about with joy, and the sheep will gather around their shepherd as if to express their thankfulness to him. This is the context of the verse in Isaiah 43:2 which says, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee” (Isaiah 43:2).

The Nature of Sheep:

  1. Sheep need to be Kept: 1 Samuel 16:11,19
  2. Sheep need to be Fed: 1 Samuel 17:15
  3. Sheep need Protection: 1 Samuel 17:34
  4. Sheep need to be Sheered: 1 Samuel 25:16
  5. Sheep Stray & Scatter without a Shepherd: 1 Kings 22:17
  6. Sheep become Prey: Ezekiel 34:6

God’s People as Sheep:

  1. Created by God: Psalm 100:3
  2. Owned by God: Psalm 79:13;
  3. Tendency to Stray: Psalm 119:176; Isaiah 53:6

God as our Shepherd:

Based on Two Texts: Psalm 23, John 10:1-18

  1. The Lord as my shepherd: Psalm 23:1
  2. The Lord as provider of my needs: Psalm 23:1
  3. The Lord as my satisfaction and portion: Psalm 23:2
  4. The Lord as my leader: Psalm 23:2
  5. The Lord who restores my soul: Psalm 23:3
  6. The Lord as my sanctifier: Psalm 23:3
  7. The Lord as my protector and comfort: Psalm 23:4
  8. The Lord as my soothing balm: Psalm 23:5

Interactive Study of John 10

The Incarnate Hero

Text: Matthew 1:18-25


People love stories about men and women who rescue those in need. Growing up I loved to read the Hardy Boys – Frank and Joe Hardy were teenage brothers and amateur detectives. They spent every free moment investigating crimes and seeking to save different individuals from danger and death. Each of the stories had me hooked and I couldn’t put down the book until I found out who the perpetrator was, and how Frank and Joe came to the rescue of those in need.

Presently I am re-reading the Famous Five series. Julian, Dick, Anne, Georgina (George) and Timmy (the dog) spend their days in the school holidays solving crimes and going on adventures together. Inevitably, there is always a twist in these novels and someone who needs to be saved. I could always count on the Famous Five to catch the “baddies” and deliver those in trouble.

And then there is superman – Joe Siegel’s fictional character who first appeared in 1938. I don’t so much like superman’s fashion sense, but I love what He stands for -Truth, Justice and the American Way. The story of Clark Kent and his alter-ego, superman, have thrilled audiences since 1938. An alien who lives amongst us, and spends his days rescuing people whilst trying to maintain his occupation as a journalist. He is constantly misunderstood by friends and strangers, and yet he is always looking out for those in need. With supernatural powers, this alien-man conceals his true identity, operates with justice, and does not seek praise or honour from those he saves. A great fictional hero.

Coded into our DNA as human beings, is the love for stories of heroism and salvation. We love to read about it, watch it, and even be engaged in situations where we can rescue others. This inclination within is by divine design. There is a longing within our souls to experience salvation, but from what, and by whom, may be a mystery to us today.

In this message, I hope to give you an overview of the essential truths regarding Jesus Christ – His person, purpose, prophecy and power.

Join me as I preach a message entitled: The Incarnate Hero.

1. The Miracle of Divine Conception

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:18)

Consider the weight of this verse! Sometimes the commonality of this text precludes us from being awe-struck!

Joseph is betrothed to Mary.

  • Among the Jews, betrothal took place about a year before marriage.
  • During this time, the betrothed maiden remained with her own family.
  • Betrothal was a contract entered into but not yet consummated physically.
  • Unfaithfulness during this period was considered adultery and invoked severe consequences.
  • It was the man’s responsibility to organise/build a lodging for his new wife and then collect her at the appointed time.

It was during this preparation time that Mary was found to be with child”.

Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes for a moment.

  • He is pledged to be married to Mary.
  • Very likely he is uncontactable during the days of the betrothal.
  • He comes to collect his wife-to-be (perhaps because of the census) and finds her with child.
  • Mary has already been told by the angel (Luke 1:26-37), but Joseph does not know at this point!

How your mind would race?

Imagine arriving at Mary’s parent’s home to find your bride-to-be at least 6 months pregnant?

Imagine hearing Mary give the explanation to Joseph about the angel’s visit and that she had been selected to give birth to the long-awaited Messiah!

Don’t forget that Joseph would not have known Mary very well and that it was likely an arranged marriage.

“from the Holy Spirit”

If it wasn’t enough that Mary appeared to have been unfaithful to Joseph, now she claims that this child is the direct product of God! How bewildering!

At this point in the account many questions arise:

  • Is Mary lying?
  • Can God procreate with a human?
  • Is this account even possible or is it a fable?
  • Would the child be human? God? Or something else?

The doctrine of divine conception and the virgin birth are critical to understanding the person of Jesus Christ.

For years the cults, scientists, and skeptics have denied the biblical account.

In fact, there is a common test used to determine the truth of a theory called the scientific method. This process involves forming a hypothesis (theory), testing the theory, analysing the data, and seeking to reproduce the outcome.

In science, if a theory cannot be reproduced, it is considered unsubstantiated.

In this regard, many a scientist has taken the “doctrine of the virgin birth” and denied its accuracy because it cannot be measured or reproduced.

The only problem with this form of testing is that it is based upon man’s logic and does not take into account the supernatural power of God!

The Bible says that God caused Mary to fall pregnant without the aid of a human being. This fact must be believed by faith. It cannot be explained in human terms, not can it be tested in the lab.

Mary’s child was the product of a divine miracle.

By the way, Mary was not chosen because she was sinless or the only worthy surrogate womb available, she was chosen by God for reasons known only to Himself.

Luke 1:35 “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.”

The child conceived within Mary was no ordinary child. The “seed” of this conception was not human and therefore untainted by original sin. The baby was holy. No inclination or disposition towards that which is evil.

Lest we misunderstood the manner in which this conception took place, let me simply say that the Holy Spirit “coming upon” Mary is not indicative of human intercourse, but rather a special creative work performed by God in her womb.

Matthew Henry: The mystery of Christ’s incarnation is to be adored, not pried into. If we know not the way of the Spirit in the formation of common persons, nor how the bones are formed in the womb of any one that is with child, much less do we know how the blessed Jesus was formed in the womb of the virgin.”

A.T. Robertson: “There is no miracle with God who has all power and all knowledge. The laws of nature are simply the expression of God’s will, but he has not revealed all his will in the laws that we discover. God is Spirit. He is Person. He holds in his own power all life.”

2. The Mysterious Duality

“She will bear a son” (Matthew 1:21a)

This amazing account is filled with incomprehensible truths.

Firstly we have divine conception and now we see a mysterious duality – a son of man (woman) and the Son of God.

On 86 occasions in the New Testament Jesus is referred to as the “Son of Man”. In fact it is His favourite title for Himself.

On 43 occasions in the New Testament Jesus is referred to as the “Son of God.

These titles are a paradox but not a contradiction. They are hard to blend, and yet they are intrinsically unified.

Jesus is Mary’s son in every sense, and He is the Son of God in every sense.

If you attack either of these biblical truths, you rob Jesus of His TRUE character.

He is the God-man. The One who existed before His birth in Bethlehem as a man, and the One who will exist for all eternity.

The great paradox is that the Son of God created His own mother.

Michael Card, a renowned Christian musician, wrote a song called, “To the Mystery”:

When the Father longed to show

A love He wanted us to know

He sent His only Son and so

Became a holy embryo

That is the mystery

More than you can see

Give up on your pondering

And fall down on your knees

A fiction as fantastic and wild

A mother made by her own child

A hopeless babe who cried

Was God Incarnate and man deified

That is the mystery

More than you can see

Give up on your pondering

And fall down on your knees

Because the fall did devastate

Creator must now recreate

So to take our sin

Was made like us so we could be like Him

That is the mystery

More than you can see

Give up on your pondering

And fall down on your knees

The only appropriate response to the fact that Jesus is the Son of Man and the Son of God is to fall on our knees in praise and worship.

3. A Common Name with Extraordinary Implications

“…and you shall call his name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21).

There are 12 specific occasions that we know of where God instructed parents give their child a particular name, or to alter one that was already in existence.

Every time God did this there was a clear purpose in mind:

  1. Adam – “Earthy, red earth, out of the ground” (Adam’s name is given by God – inferred).
  2. Abram to Abraham: “A high father, a lofty father” to “Father of a great multitude” (Genesis 17:5).
  3. Sarai to Sarah: “Contentious, quarrelsome” to “Princess, noble woman” (Genesis 17:15).
  4. Isaac – “laughing” or “laughter” (Genesis 17:19).
  5. Ishmael – “He will be heard of God” (Genesis 16:11).
  6. Jacob to Israel: “He who supplants, supplanter” to “He will be prince with God” (Genesis 32:28).
  7. Maher-shal-al-hashbaz – “Haste to the spoil, hasten to the prey” (Isaiah 8:3-4).
  8. The prophet Hosea had three children by a prostitute at the Lord’s command and God named each with a specific purpose and meaning: Jezreel “God sows”; Loruhamah “No mercy”; Loammi “Not my people”.
  9. John the Baptist – “Jehovah has been gracious” (Luke 1:13).
  10. Jesus – “Jehovah is salvation” (Matthew 1:21).


Names play an important role in the Bible and it is worth studying out these different terms and their meanings.

I am told that my mother chose my name because she was reading through Daniel during her pregnancy. I am only glad that she was not reading Habakkuk!!!

The name Jesus (ye-sus) is the Greek form of the Old Testament name Joshua (Yeshua). Yeshua was a very common name in those days. In fact the Bible records at least 4 different “Joshua’s” in the Old Testament and at least two “Jesus’s” in the New Testament (Col.4:11).

The human name given to the Son of God was not unique, but in His case it had extraordinary implications.

Interesting fact: It was always the father’s right to name the child (Luke 1:62) which is why the angel told Joseph what Mary’s son should be called (Matthew 1:21).

“Jehovah is salvation” (Jesus) took on new meaning when the God-man became the sin-bearer for all who would be saved.

The name given by the angel to Joseph was purposeful. The Lord JESUS Christ was not just another “yeshua” (Joshua), He was the promised One who would rescue His people. The hero, the spiritual life-saver, the Mediator between God and man, the only One qualified to expiate sin and impute righteousness.

“For he shall save his people from their sins.”

The greatest prophecy in the Bible uttered by the words of this angel.

Let us pause a moment to consider what is meant by this prophetic statement.

  1. Save” (sozo) means to: “rescue, deliver, heal, preserve and protect, to liberate, discharge a debt, and to redeem.”


  2. “His people” refers in the initial sense to the Israelites. John 1:11 tells us that Jesus “came to his own, and his own people did not receive him”, which then opened the way for all who would to believe on Him.
  3. “From their sins” – This implicates all humanity who are depraved and bound in sin. The Scripture makes it clear that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and none are righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10).

Outside of Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death on the cross for sinners, all are doomed to eternal destruction. God makes it abundantly clear that “the soul that sins shall die.”

Rather than letting humanity be cast headlong into hell forever, God’s great love was demonstrated in that He sent His “Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1 John 4:14).

However, salvation from sin is not an automatic reality. It cannot be achieved through good works, keeping the sacraments, living a moral life, looking out for your fellow-man, or being honest in your dealings

The only way a sinner can be saved is by recognising their own sinfulness before a holy and righteous God, and trusting that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only means by which they can be saved and brought into a relationship with God.

Failure to believe in this truth will result in eternal damnation.

Salvation in Jesus Christ is possible today because of all that He accomplished on the cross and through His resurrection.


4. A 600 Year-Old Prophecy Fulfilled

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:22-23)

Isaiah was a faithful prophet of God some 600 years before Jesus was born. In the middle of a specific prophecy to his people in that day, there is a verse which reads: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

Matthew and Luke both make reference to this prophecy in their gospel accounts (Matthew 1:22-23; Luke 1:31,34) and unequivocally declare Jesus to be it’s fulfilment.

There are no less than 353 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled during His 33 years on earth.

Professor Peter Stoner was chairman of the mathematics and astronomy departments at Pasadena City College until 1953 before moving to Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. During his tenure there, he published a book entitled, “Science speaks” which was the result of many years of research and calculation. Stoner was seeking to apply the science of probability to the Scriptures, and in particular eight prophecies made in the Old Testament about the Lord Jesus Christ.

  1. The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
    The average population of Bethlehem from the time of Micah to the present (1958) divided by the average population of the earth during the same period.


  2. A messenger will prepare the way for the Messiah (Malachi 3:1).
    One man in how many, the world over, has had a forerunner (in this case, John the Baptist) to prepare his way?
    Estimate: 1 in 1,000.


  3. The Messiah will enter Jerusalem as a king riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).
    One man in how many, who has entered Jerusalem as a ruler, has entered riding on a donkey?
    Estimate: 1 in 100


  4. The Messiah will be betrayed by a friend and suffer wounds in His hands (Zechariah 13:6).
    One man in how many, the world over, has been betrayed by a friend, resulting in wounds in his hands?
    Estimate: 1 in 1,000


  5. The Messiah will be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12).
    Of the people who have been betrayed, one in how many has been betrayed for exactly 30 pieces of silver?
    Estimate: 1 in 1,000


  6. The betrayal money will be used to purchase a potter’s field (Zechariah 11:13).
    One man in how many, after receiving a bribe for the betrayal of a friend, has returned the money, had it refused, and then experienced it being used to buy a potter’s field?
    Estimate: 1 in 100,000


  7. The Messiah will remain silent while He is afflicted (Isaiah 53:7).
    One man in how many, when he is oppressed and afflicted, though innocent, will make no defense of himself?
    Estimate: 1 in 1,000


  8. The Messiah will die by having His hands and feet pierced (Psalm 22:16).
    One man in how many, since the time of David, has been crucified?
    Estimate: 1 in 10,000


Multiplying all these probabilities together produces a number (rounded off) of 1×10 to the power of 28. Dividing this number by an estimate of the number of people who have lived since the time of these prophecies (88 billion) produces a probability of all 8 prophecies being fulfilled accidentally in the life of one person. That probability is 1 in 10 to the power of 17 or 1 in one hundred quadrillion (The number 1 with 17 zeros on the end)!!

Jesus is the promised Messiah – declared to be so in the Scriptures, substantiated through mathematics, verified by saints throughout the ages, and through the personal testimony of changed lives in this very room!

5. The Invisible God Among Us

“..and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

The prophecy was explicit – “God with us”.

Of all the titles and names of the Son of God this ranks very high in my estimation and appreciation.

When Jessica asked me what I would like inscribed on material napkins she was having made for our Christmas lunch, I said, “Immanuel”. To me, this title speaks volumes of truth.

When Isaiah uttered these words under the inspiration of the Spirit, he was not declaring that the Son of God would be known on earth by the name “Immanuel”, but rather that this title would be ascribed to Him, for He was truly God and truly man and “dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

The doctrine of the Incarnation (as discussed earlier) refers to the fact that Jesus was truly God and truly man in every sense.

Scripture repeatedly teaches this fact, and it is essential that we at this time of year pause to consider this awesome reality.

The God of eternity, though rich, became poor for our sakes (2 Corinthians 8:9), entered time and space cloaked in humanity (John 1:14), took upon Himself the form of a servant willingly (Philippians 2:7), lived a life of humility, suffered immeasurably, bore the wrath of God mercilessly, was crucified and died horrifically, buried in a borrowed tomb temporarily, raised to new life victoriously, procured salvation for sinners completely, and will return gloriously.

Do you know my hero? Do you know my Saviour?

Don’t stay at the manger.

Come to the cross, the grave and the resurrection.

The most marvellous message in the world is not a baby in a manger, but that God most high descended to earth in human form, so that He might pay the ultimate price to redeem lost, unregenerate, wicked, sinners.

To God (the “incarnate hero”) be the glory!