Philippians 4:11-13 – A Brief Exposition

Philippians 4:11 is our theme verse regarding Christian Contentment and it appears in the context as the first of three verses which end with Paul’s “secret” to being content. It obviously isn’t a secret because he tells us that contentment does not rest in us, but in what Christ can do in us. He assured us near the beginning of his epistle that, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

Philippians 4:11-13

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” v. 11

Verses 10-19 is a discourse of how the Philippian believers supplied Paul with a gift to further his ministry. He assures them that even though it took a long time to reach him, he received it as a love gift and not because they were obliged to him. Their gift arrived late and he assured them that he was in no way offended or deprived by that. (v. 10) He assures them (v. 11a) that what he is about to tell them is not because he is in need of or asking for more frm them. He mentions three things:

  1. In Paul’s life of ministry he has learned something important through painful trials that apply to everyone. (See some examples in II Corinthians 11:23-28.)

  2. The lesson applies to every circumstance or trial which Paul elaborates on in the next verse.

  3. The result of these lessons is contentment. The Greek word for content is used only here in the New Testament and it is a word used by stoic philosophers of a man who is sufficient to himself for all things; able by the power of his own will to resist the shock of circumstance. It could be taken to mean self-reliance, but Paul explains what he means in the next sentence.

 “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” v. 12

Paul isn’t spouting some philosophical or theoretical notion. His own personal experiences of humiliation, hunger, and suffering bear out his assertion. Listen to this man who has proven what he claims in the harsh reality of life:

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. v. 13

Paul’s contentment does not come from stoical endurance or brave independence. His secret is not self-sufficiency, but all-sufficiency in Christ; it is dependence on Christ in all circumstances. The word strengtheneth in Greek consists of the basic word for power or strength with a prefix indicating the joining of this power or enabling between “Christ” and “me.” Christ working in the believer’s life is empowering, not just to produce contentment, but in accomplishing “all things.” He bears testimony to this power when he asked God to heal him of an illness and God’s answer was another trial to glorify Christ: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” II Corinthians 12:9

Next time – Jeremiah Burrough’s definition of Christian Contentment

 

The Loving Saviour Found Me Upon the Mountain Cold

“For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.” Matthew 18:11-13 (KJV)

The parable of the lost sheep is one of almost 30 parables of Jesus recorded in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke). This hymn by Judson W. Van De Venter dwells on the blessed truth that Jesus came to save sinners. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) When we were lost in a wilderness and wandering in the world without hope (Ephesians 2:12-13) Jesus not only sought us when we were rebels against Him, but took us to Himself and gave us eternal life when we believed in Him who shed His blood for us on the cross. (John 3:16-17)

 

The Loving Saviour Found Me Upon the Mountain Cold

by Judson W. Van De Venter *

The loving Saviour found me

Upon the mountain cold;

He threw his arms around me,

And brought me to the fold.

His love he freely gave me,

His precious blood applied;

He did it all to save me,

And I am satisfied.

Refrain

I’m satisfied, satisfied,

I’m satisfied with Jesus, the One who died for me;

I’m satisfied, satisfied,

I’m satisfied with Jesus, for he makes me free.

The Saviour lingered near me

When on the mountain wild;

When others seemed to fear me,

He owned me for his child.

With tenderness he took me,

When others turned aside;

He saved and ne’er forsook me,

And I am satisfied. [Refrain]

I’ll never, never leave him,

Forget, nor turn away;

I’ll love, adore, believe him,

I’ll trust him and obey;

I’ll go where’er he leads me,

Be ever at his side,

And work where’er he needs me,

For I am satisfied. [Refrain]

 

* Judson W. Van De Venter (1855–1939) was born in Michigan and following graduation from Hillsdale College, he became an art teacher and supervisor of art in the public schools of Sharon, Pennsylvania. Recognizing his talent for the ministry, friends urged him to give up teaching and become an evangelist. Van De Venter wavered for five years between becoming a recognized artist or devoting himself to ministry. Following his decision to surrender his life to the Divine, Van De Venter traveled throughout the United States, England, and Scotland, doing evangelistic work. Toward the end of his life, Van De Venter moved to Florida, and was professor of hymnology at the Florida Bible Institute for four years in the 1920s. Van De Venter published more than 60 hymns in his lifetime, but “I Surrender All” is his most famous.

 

Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646)

Jeremiah Burroughs

“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.” II Timothy 4:2

The character of Jeremiah Burroughs comes out clearly in his book first published in 1646 two years after his death at age forty-seven. The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment is compiled from his sermons on the topic and lightly edited for spelling and archaic words.

His treatment of the topic of Christian Contentment is remarkably practical. Unlike many of the scholarly clergy of his day who fed their flocks lofty and lengthy dissertations on theologically abstract concepts, Borroughs sermons were so down-to-earth that his congregants loved them for their sensible applicability. His book shows us that spiritual contentment is a very practical and useful subject.

Burroughs spent his life as a warrior for the truth. He left Emmanuel College in Cambridge when he realized that the Church of England was not as committed to the truth of the Word of God as he believed it should have been. He was labeled a “nonconformist” and associated with a number of like-minded Puritan men called the Independents who later moved to New England to form Congregational churches.

During a brief period in England’s history when persecution of Puritans abated, he moved to London and was chosen to preach at two of what some termed the greatest congregations in England (Stepney and Cripplegate). He was second to the senior minister and so assigned to preach at the 7 a.m. service. Before long, he was known as “the morning-star of Stepney.” Naturally, because he preached at the other church in the evening, he became known as “the evening-star of Cripplegate.” In both churches he faithfully preached the word of God and was loved for his sermons.

All who knew him said that he had a calm, peaceable, warm spirit. He was particularly bothered by divisions among Puritans over what he considered minor differences. He noted that the causes of rigid, hot-tempered disputes was usually a wrong spirit and wrong motives. Although his attempts to smooth over disputes was not always successful, he and a few other Puritan ministers managed to keep a sense of proportion. Many of his sermons still survive and their collection in The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment is a blessing to all who desire to glorify God in their daily lives.

 Next week: What Philippians 4:11 says about being “content.”

Hymn: All I Need

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:”  II Peter 1:3       

One of the lessons of Christian contentment is realizing that many things in this life are not true necessities. We focus on material comforts as if they were essential to daily life. When we don’t have what we think are necessities we feel deprived, disadvantaged, unfortunate. When our material blessings are removed, we can get angry with God for not meeting what we think are our needs.

Job was tempted to curse God when he lost his children, his wealth, and his health. And yet, Job saw what he had as being given to him by God in the first place.

“‘…Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” Job 1:21-22

“‘…shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil [calamity]?’ In all this did not Job sin with his lips.” Job 2:10b

Yes, Job was discouraged, unhappy, and hurting. If God had turned against him, Job could see himself as an underprivileged victim, but God had not abandoned him. By the end of the book, Job learned that his only need was the holy, Almighty God who created him. When he reflected on his selfishness, Job concluded,

“…therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. …Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:3b, 6

Have you ever wonder why we weren’t given everything that we wanted? Maybe it’s because we don’t need everything we want. Maybe it’s time to learn that God has already given us all that we need in our Savior, Jesus Christ.

All I Need

by Charles Price Jones (1865-1949) *

Jesus Christ is made to me,

All I need, all I need;

He alone is all my plea,

He is all I need.

Chorus:

Wisdom, righteousness and pow’r,

Holiness forevermore,

My redemption full and sure,

He is all I need.

Jesus is my all in all,

All I need, all I need;

While He keeps I cannot fall,

He is all I need. [Chorus]

He redeemed me when He died,

All I need, all I need;

I with Him was crucified,

He is all I need. [Chorus]

To my Savior will I cleave,

All I need, all I need;

He will not His servant leave,

He is all I need. [Chorus]

He’s the treasure of my soul,

All I need, all I need;

He hath cleansed and made me whole,

He is all I need. [Chorus]

Glory, glory to the Lamb,

All I need, all I need;

By His Spirit sealed I am,

He is all I need. [Chorus]

 

* Charles Price Jones  (1865-1949) grew up in Kingston, Georgia, and attended a Baptist church. He was converted in 1884 while living in Cat Island, Arkansas. In 1885 he was called to the ministry and preached and pastored several Baptist churches. After asking God for a deeper experience of grace and fasting and praying for three days in 1895, Jones experienced a closeness with God and joined with other Baptist holiness adherents. They started a holiness movement in the Baptist church, and he began teaching holiness in his congregation of Mount Helm Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi. For several years, Jones led a non-denominational holiness movement. In 1899 he began to write songs for his church. Most of his hymns were inspired by a scripture passage. In 1917, Jones organized Christ Temple Church in Los Angeles with a 1,000-seat sanctuary, printing press, school building, and a girl’s dormitory. He died January 19, 1949 in Los Angeles.

 

 

 

 

Introduction – Spiritual Contentment

“…I have learned, in whatsoever state I am,

therewith to be content.”

Philippians 4:11b

Welcome to 2021 and the start of a new series! The next several months will be devoted to a very practical study of “Christian Contentment.”

We can easily become discontent with our circumstances and that discontent will drag us down spiritually. The past year of COVID-19 restrictions and uncertainty combined with a tumultuous social and political scene have driven some Christians to take on an attitude of discontent. Circumstances, personal trials, and conflicts give us handy excuses for being discontent. The Bible says that God “…hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” (Ephesians 1:3b) Certainly, these blessings are heavenly, but our omnipotent God is not limited to the spiritual only. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

Our study will lead us into what Christian contentment looks like, what it means to learn to be content, what some of the (many) obstacles to contentment can be, and finally, what we can do to become more content in our Christian lives.

In preparation for our study of Christian Contentment, I asked myself some questions:

  • What is “spiritual contentment”? Happy, comfortable, successful, well-off?

  • What brings me real contentment in life? Where do I find spiritual contentment?

  • Are there circumstances that make me the opposite of spiritually content: disgruntled, frustrated, resentful? Do I express my discontent by complaining, grumbling, griping? Do I make excuses to justify my discontent? Is it sin to be  discontent?

Besides the Bible, our guide will be a little book written by the Puritan preacher, Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646) titled, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, published in 1648. I’ve been blessed by Burroughs’ deep, devotional love for Christ and his practical insights into what causes believers to be discontent, ungrateful, vexed, and disgruntled with what happens around us. This godly preacher of the Gospel had insights into the human condition that are as applicable in the 21st century as it was in his time four hundred years ago.

 

More about Jeremiah Burroughs next time.

 

Hymn: The Sands of Time Are Sinking

So teach us to number our days,

That we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Return, O Lord! How long?

And have compassion on Your servants.

Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy,

That we may rejoice and be glad all our days!

Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us,

The years in which we have seen evil.

Let Your work appear to Your servants,

And Your glory to their children.

And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,

And establish the work of our hands for us;

Yes, establish the work of our hands.”

Psalm 90:12-17 (NKJV)

The Sands Of Time Are Sinking

Lyrics by Annie Ross Cousin *

The sands of time are sinking,

the dawn of heaven breaks,

the summer morn I’ve sighed for,

the fair sweet morn awakes;

dark, dark hath been the midnight,

but dayspring is at hand,

and glory, glory dwelleth

in Emmanuel’s land.

The King there in his beauty

without a veil is seen;

it were a well-spent journey,

though sev’n deaths lay between:

the Lamb with his fair army

doth on Mount Zion stand,

and glory, glory dwelleth

in Emmanuel’s land.

O Christ, he is the fountain,

the deep sweet well of love!

The streams on earth I’ve tasted,

more deep I’ll drink above:

there to an ocean fullness

his mercy doth expand,

and glory, glory dwelleth

in Emmanuel’s land.

The bride eyes not her garment,

but her dear bridegroom’s face;

I will not gaze at glory,

but on my King of grace;

not at the crown he gifteth,

but on his pierc-ed hand:

the Lamb is all the glory

of Emmanuel’s land.

 

* Annie Ross Cousin (1824-1906) was the only child of Dr. David Ross Cundell, a former surgeon at the Battle of Waterloo. She received a private education and became a skilled pianist. She married a minister of the Free Church of Scotland, with whom she had six children. Shortly after their marriage, Anne began writing church hymns for her husband’s services and many of these became very popular in Britain during the mid-to late 19th century.

Her most popular song, “The Sands Of Time Are Sinking”, was written in 1854. The original version was 19 stanzas, but was not widely known until a shorted 5-verse version appeared in a hymn book, The Service of Praise. A collection of her poems, Immanuel’s Land and Other Pieces, was published in 1876 under her initials A.R.C., by which she was most widely known. Anne and her husband retired in Edinburgh after nearly 20 years of religious service.

 

“…I have learned, in whatsoever state I am,

therewith to be content.”

Philippians 4:11b

The Centurion Chronicles ends this week and this centurion thanks all soldiers who have followed along and given me words of encouragement.

My studies during 2020 have convinced me that I have a lot to learn about how to be content. I would like to share some of those lessons with you in 2021. Our study guide (besides the Bible) will be a little book written by the Puritan preacher, Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646) titled, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, published in 1648.

Please join me as we learn about Christian Contentment together.

Michael Vetter

Hymn: In Times Like These

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” II Timothy 3:1-5 (KJV)

 

In Times Like These

by Ruth Caye Jones *

In times like these you need a Savior,

In times like these you need an anchor;

Be very sure, be very sure,

Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

[Chorus]

This Rock is Jesus, Yes He’s the One,

This Rock is Jesus, the only One;

Be very sure, be very sure,

Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

In times like these you need the Bible,

In times like these, O be not idle;

Be very sure, be very sure,

Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

[Chorus]

In times like these I have a Savior,

In times like these I have an anchor;

I’m very sure, I’m very sure

My anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

[Chorus]

 

*  Ruth Caye Jones (1902-1972), a mother of five and wife of a busy pastor in Pennsylvania, was reading 2 Timothy 3:1, which says, “…in the last days perilous times shall come.” As she read the Pittsburgh newspapers in 1943, and saw the World War II casualty lists, and heard reports of the slow progress of Allied troops moving up the boot of Italy, it seemed to her those perilous times had already come. Rationing was hitting those at home hard; discouragement was everywhere. It seemed as if evil was winning!

Ruth took out a small notepad from her apron pocket and began to write down some words. A melody came to her that seemed to fit the words she wrote. She had no formal music training, but she wasn’t trying to write a song that would make her famous, but, it happened to be the right song for the right time and soon, people around the world were singing it!

Years later, when she was watching a Billy Graham crusade on television, she heard George Beverly Shea sing this song…her song…and tears came to her eyes. She said, “I can’t believe I had any part in writing this song. I just feel that God gave it to me, and I gave it to the world.”

“…I have learned, in whatsoever state I am,

therewith to be content.”

Philippians 4:11b

The Centurion Chronicles ends this week and this centurion thanks all soldiers who have followed along and given me words of encouragement.

My studies during 2020 have convinced me that I have a lot to learn about how to be content. I would like to share some of those lessons with you in 2021. Our study guide (besides the Bible) will be a little book written by the Puritan preacher, Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646) titled, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, published in 1648.

Please join me as we learn about Christian Contentment together.

Michael Vetter

Redeem the Time

“Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth’; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light [Sun] to rule the day, and the lesser light [Moon] to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.” Genesis 1:14-19

God (who is transcendent and apart from time) created time for human beings to use. He created the sun, moon, and stars for time measurements. Morning and evening as a  one “solar day” has been in existence since before the creation of Adam and Eve.

12-month/4-season Julian agricultural calendar

Around the founding of the Republic in the 8th century BC, the Roman calendar consisted of ten months beginning in spring with March; winter was left as an unassigned (variable) span of days. Feast days marked the passage of time during the year without regard to any fixed date. Julius Caesar realized that his far-reaching empire could not function according to a timekeeping calendar centrally controlled from Rome by priests and astrologers who defined feast days. In 46 BC Julius Caesar created what we know today as the Julian calendar and ordered its use by everyone in the empire. It consisted of 365 solar days with an annual correction. With minor other corrections from time to time, this calendar served the Eastern world for fifteen centuries. Different calendars by new governments proved confusing after the Roman Empire fell and the Julian calendar was finally changed in 1582 AD by the Roman church to add one leap-day every fourth February. God’s original plan since Creation

has been for the heavens to be “signs and seasons, and for days and years.”

“Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” Colossians 4:5-6

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians  5:15-16

Time in the Bible is more than just counting solar chronology (from the Greek word for time, CHRONOS) in hours, days, months or years. In the verses above, our life (our walk) is to be continually redeeming the limited, finite time we have. The word redeem means to take full possession of something, to hold it and make it our own. The Greek word KAIROS used in Colossians and Ephesians refers to an opportune time, a “moment” or a “season” such as “harvest time.” God will give us opportunities, KAIROS times, this coming year to make His Name known, to testify of His greatness, to tell others about salvation through His Son, and to serve Him in the local church. May we make the most of every opportunity, no matter what God has in store for us in 2021.

 

“…I have learned, in whatsoever state I am,

therewith to be content.”

Philippians 4:11b

The Centurion Chronicles ends this week and this centurion thanks all soldiers who have followed along and given me words of encouragement.

My studies during 2020 have convinced me that I have a lot to learn about how to be content. I would like to share some of those lessons with you in 2021. Our study guide (besides the Bible) will be a little book written by the Puritan preacher, Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646) titled, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, published in 1648.

Please join me as we learn about Christian Contentment together.

Michael Vetter

12/30/2020

Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne and Thy Kingly Crown

“Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD”

 

Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!”  Psalm 46:10 (NKJV)

 

Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne and Thy Kingly Crown

by Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott (E.E.S. Elliott; 1836-1897) *

Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,

When Thou camest to earth for me;

But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room

For Thy holy nativity.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,

There is room in my heart for Thee.

Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang,

Proclaiming Thy royal degree;

But of lowly birth didst Thou come to earth,

And in great humility.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,

There is room in my heart for Thee.

The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest

In the shade of the forest tree;

But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God,

In the deserts of Galilee.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,

There is room in my heart for Thee.

Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word

That should set Thy people free;

But with mocking scorn, and with crown of thorn,

They bore Thee to Calvary.

O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,

There is room in my heart for Thee.

When the heav’ns shall ring, and the angels sing,

At Thy coming to victory,

Let Thy voice call me home, saying “Yet there is room,

There is room at My side for thee.”

My heart shall rejoice, Lord Jesus,

When Thou comest and callest for me.

 

*  Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott (1836-1897) was the author of Chimes for Daily Service (1880) containing 71 hymns arranged in two parts, the second of which was published separately as a large-print book for hospitals with the title, Under the Pillow. Many of her hymns were written for the choir at St. Mark’s Church, Brighton, England, where her father, the vicar, emphasized Bible prophecy in his sermons. Elliott was also the author of a translation of “Silent Night, Holy Night” from the original German in 1858. Associated with the Evangelical Party of the Anglican Church (also known as the Low Church Party), she spent her life working with rescue missions and children in their Sunday Schools. For six years she edited a magazine called the Church Missionary Juvenile Instructor.

Hallelujah! for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
The Kingdom of this world is become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.
King of kings, and Lord of lords
and He shall reign for ever and ever.
Hallelujah!

Revelation 19:6, 11:15, 19:16 (from Handel’s Messiah)

 

 

 

 

 

The Incarnation of Jesus Christ

God’s timing is perfect in all that He does! Starting back in the Garden of Eden, when sin entered a perfect creation, God mentioned a Savior who would come one day to rescue mankind and restore God’s kingdom on Earth. (Genesis 3:15) Since that time millennia ago, the human race has looked forward to that moment when God would send His Son to be born in human flesh. The prophet Isaiah predicted of the birth,

“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.

Of the increase of His government and peace

There will be no end,

Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,

To order it and establish it with judgment and justice

From that time forward, even forever.

The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”

Isaiah 9:6-7

But history seemed to drag on for centuries. Hope still kindled in spite of wars, exile, slavery, and a slow return of God’s people back to the Promised Land. Nobody knew when God’s promise would be fulfilled until Daniel received a revelation from God:

“That from the going forth of the command

To restore and build Jerusalem

Until Messiah the Prince,

There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks

Daniel 9:25a

A “week” here indicates “a group of sevens” and the context interprets it as meaning a time period of seven years and the fulfillment in 69 “weeks”. The prophecy of Messiah’s coming was fulfilled exactly  483 years later. The Greek Empire had come and gone in history and the Roman Empire was at its peak. The Messiah was born in Bethlehem and, by God’s sovereign reckoning, the timing was perfect!

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4-5

Jesus came exactly when God planned! In His wisdom, the “fullness of the time” was at the peak of the Roman Empire in out-of-the-way province that chafed against the iron hand of far-off Rome. Thus the world that cradled and then crucified Jesus of Nazareth was also the civilization that would help a sprouting Christianity to blossom. By God’s design, the “fullness of the time” was characterized by a wide civilization with a common language (Greek), relative peace (Pax Romana), cross-empire transportation, and enforced laws and rules for citizens and non-slaves.

The baby born in the manger grew up and demonstrated His divine person many times over three and one-half years. The same Roman government—soldiers followed the orders of a governor appointed by another emperor—crucified the promised Messiah. On the cross, God demonstrated “…His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) There, He died for the sins of the whole world. (I John 2:2) Jesus explained to his apostles in the upper room at His last Passover, “…whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:27-28)

What about us in 2020? For many, this has been a year of sadness, frustration, and desperation. What are we to do when our world seems to be crumbling around us?  A man so desperate that he was about to end his life asked the apostle Paul and his companion Silas a question and their answer was simple, yet profound: “‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’” (Acts 16:30b-31)

Jesus the Christ came to Earth to save the world from our sins at the perfect time in history. Wouldn’t now be the perfect time to believe on God’s Son and ask Him to save you? If you do, He promises to save your soul from eternal condemnation. This is His promise:

“For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’… For ‘whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.’” (Romans 10:11, 13)