Matt 1:21                   God’s Gift of Mercy Through Jesus Christ                 12/27/2009    ßà   


  • Special People of God (Matt 1:18-25, 13:55-58)





#1.       Thou Shalt Call His Name Jesus (Matt 1:21, 2Pet 1:21, John 8:44, 10:26)





  • A Mighty Savior (Matt 1:21, 1John 3:4, Rom 6:23, Isa 53:4-5, Matt 7:13-14)





#2.       All Men Are Not Created Equal (Eph 1:3-8, 2:1-3)





  • As Dead as Lazarus (John 11:1-44, Rom 10:17, Acts 9:1-22)





#3.       Saved By Grace (Matt 1:21, Eph 2:1-9)








Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 1:18 (2X). Last week we have seen how God’s gift of mercy was given freely to some people who were special to the Lord. We have looked at two Canaanite women, such as Tamar who played the harlot and Rahab the harlot, and we have seen the mercy of God on Ruth the Moabitess, who was one of the cursed Moabites, and on Bathsheba the Hittite woman who committed adultery with David. We have seen the mercy of God on the worst of the worst wicked king Manasseh, and Zerubbabel, who was the grandson of Jeconiah, one of the last kings of Judah. But when we came to the end of the list in Matt 1:17 this was not the end of God’s gift of mercy to His special people. In fact we should go on, and we should discover God’s gift of mercy on a whole lot of other people who were also special people in the eyes of God. Therefore the title of this sermon is, God’s Gift of Mercy Through Jesus Christ (2X). Let us then read these verses which tell us about the many who are special people of God. We read in Matt 1:18-25,

  • Special People of God (Matt 1:18-25, 13:55-58)

Mt 1:18-25  Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

What do we see in this passage? We see in verse18 that while they were still in Nazareth, Mary was espoused to Joseph. But verse 19 says that Joseph was her husband, and in verse 20 God says through the Angel of the Lord that Mary was his wife. This tells us that a betrothal in those days was a solid commitment to get married, and they were as good as married except for the intimacy of the sexual act. However, after the Angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, and told him that he should not fear to take Mary as his wife, we read in verse 24 that Joseph did so. It means that Mary was now his legitimate wife. But he “knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son”, which means that he had sexual intercourse with her after the birth of Jesus, her “firstborn son.” This means that Jesus had brothers and sisters from the same Mary, his mother. And is this not what we read in Matt 13:55? Please turn in your Bibles to chapter 13 in this Gospel of Matthew, Matt 13:55 (2X). We read in Matt 13:54 that Jesus came into His own country, which means He came to Nazareth, where He grew up. And there the people were astonished hearing His wisdom and seeing the miracles that He did, and they said to one another, M 13:

Mt 13:55-58  Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

And so, we read here that the Lord Jesus had four brothers and at least two sisters from His mother Mary. They were His half-brothers and half-sisters, for their father was Joseph, the carpenter, whereas the father of Jesus was God. And so we see here a special gift of mercy from God that these 6 children were allowed to grow up side by side with Jesus, who was Mary’s firstborn. These six children had their oldest brother as a role model; the best role model that was ever possible in the affairs of man. Herein we also can see the wickedness of mankind, for these siblings did not become saved until after the Lord Jesus was crucified. But Mary is not the everlasting virgin that some churches believe her to be. Mary gave Jesus His human body; she gave birth to Jesus, and that was her role in the Gospel story; nothing else. The Bible does not say that she should be worshipped like Jesus, and therefore the people who worship Mary are engaging in idolatry. If we find ourselves to be in such a church which worships Mary we should stop going to that church, for God is very much displeased with this idolatry.

Please turn back to chapter 1 of this Gospel of Matthew, Matt 1:21 (2X).

#1.       Thou Shalt Call His Name Jesus (Matt 1:21, 2Pet 1:21, John 8:44, 10:26)

The Angel said to Joseph in Matt 1:21, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Why call Him Jesus? The name Jesus is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Joshua, and Joshua means “Jehovah Saves”, or “Jehovah is Salvation.” And thus His name implies that only in Jehovah is there salvation. Only Jehovah, and no one else is responsible for our salvation; not we and our good works, but only the God of the Bible is the source of our salvation. Who wrote these words? Was it Matthew? Is the Bible a compilation of writings of men? Please turn almost to the end of your Bibles to the Second Epistle of Peter, 2Pet 1:21 (2X). Did these writings come out of the mind of men? Well, if that is so then the concepts of God, and of sin, and of retribution for sin, all came out of the minds of men, and we will all be condemned for worshipping an idol that was created by the minds of men. But what does the Bible say? The Bible says that all these writings that have been compiled into one Book that we hold in our hands, are actually the words from God Himself. We read in 2Pet 1:21, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” We read here, “They were moved by the Holy Ghost.” This tells us that all the words in the Bible are words directly from God. God dictated these words to His servants the prophets, who then wrote these words for us. And why did God want to give us these words? God gave this to us so that we can be saved, for salvation is knowing Christ and believing the Gospel that is in the Bible. That is why God gave us this Bible.

Now let us turn again to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 1:21 (2X). What else did the Angel say? He said, “For he shall save his people from their sins.” What does that mean? It means first of all that Jesus did not come to save everyone in the world, but only “His people.” These are all the people He came to save, and no one else, because if there were others He would save besides “His people” God would have said so. But who are “His people?” Some churches teach that “His people” means the nation of the Jews, and no one else. Well, if that is so, then that leaves me out. I am not a descendant of Jacob. And most of you are also not descendants of Jacob, and thus most of you are also not included in this plan of salvation. But let us consider this hypothesis carefully. Did the Lord Jesus come to save Judas Iscariot? Judas was a Jew. But the Bible clearly says that Judas Iscariot is going to Hell. Did the Lord Jesus come to save the jealous religious rulers of His days who caused Him to be crucified? No! Absolutely not! The Lord Jesus said to them, in John 8:44, “Ye are of your father the Devil”, and the Lord Jesus said in John 10:26, “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.” And so, we see that the words “His people” cannot refer to only the Jews. That is a ridiculous conclusion. Who then does “His people” refer to? Jesus came to save people from all over the world. They are called Christians. They are called Saints more than 100 times in the Bible. But if they are already His people, why do they need to be saved? Why do WE need saving? What do we need to be saved from?

  • A Mighty Savior (Matt 1:21, 1John 3:4, Rom 6:23, Isa 53:4-5, Matt 7:13-14)

Well, Matt 1:21 says, He shall save them “from their sins”. You mean there is a sin-problem? What is sin? God says in 1John 3:4, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” Just think of how many times a day you have an unrighteous thought, and you say something that is not very nice, and then multiply that times 365 days per year, and then multiply that times 70 years. That is a very large pile of sins. But when God says in the Bible that He is a just judge, which means a righteous judge, rest assured that nobody gets away with anything. Or do you think that Adolf Hitler is not going to be punished for killing millions of people? God is a righteous judge, and He will bring Adolf Hitler to trial. But God is going to bring many more people to trial: a fearful thing.

What attribute of God dominates His character? It is His righteousness, more so than His love. Most people like to speak of the love of God, but it is His righteousness as a judge that is more dominating His actions than His love. Think of it, God sent His only begotten Son whom He loves more than you and me to the cross. That is right! Justice must be done as a first priority. Do we want God to be a judge who will judge us fairly? No! We want God to be a merciful judge. If God would be fair He would throw us all into Hell, for that is what we deserve. I do not want God to be fair with me; I want God to be merciful to me. That is why we need saving. That is what the Lord Jesus came to do; to save us from the power of sin now, and to save us from the consequences of sin later, in the life hereafter.

Please turn now to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 6:23 (2X). Now look again at that little baby in the manger, and look again at the promise that God gave when He spoke to Joseph in Matt 1:21. How is that little baby going to save His people from their sins? The fact is, God has to forgive sins. And HOW does God forgive sins? How are His people forgiven? Would God wave His arms and all is forgiven? No! For that would make God an unrighteous judge. What does the Bible say in Rom 6:23? God says in Rom 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Did you notice what this verse says about eternal life? It is the gift of God. It is a FREE GIFT through Jesus Christ. But before we can receive that gift our sins must be paid in full. Those sins have to be atoned for. If we would atone for our own sins it would take us suffering for an eternity in Hell. But that is for an eternity, and that means that we would never finish the atonement for our own sins. But God, by His mercy which He bestows on many, has made provision that someone else could pay the penalty for our sins as long as that person does not have sins on his own account which he has to pay first. In all the human race there is only one such Person, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Isaiah, Isa 53:4 (2X). The Lord Jesus is rich and mighty beyond our imagination. We are too poor to pay the payment in full, but He is incredibly rich, and is able to pay the full payment in less than 24 hours on our behalf. But is the Lord Jesus doing this for every human being on this earth? The answer is simply NO, for not every human being on this earth is saved. Adolf Hitler was not saved. Joseph Stalin was not saved. And this tells us again that the term “His people” in Matt 1:21 does not refer to every human being on this earth, but it refers to a minor fraction of the human race. We read in Isa 53:4-5,

Isa 53:4-5  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

This passage tells us that God indeed has dispatched the Lord Jesus Christ to this earth to atone for the sins of many. How many? To answer this question please turn to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 7:13 (2X). We read here in Isa 53 about the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ for our sins on the cross of Calvary. This is the only way God can forgive sins. Friday, April 3 in the year AD 33 was the only day in history when sins were atoned for; this was the only day in history when the guilt of sins was forgiven. And remember that we are still busy with the problem: “Who are His people” in Matt 1:21?

We should always keep in mind what the Lord Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount concerning the many and the few. We read in Matt 7:13-14,

Mt 7:13-14  Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Many are on the way to Hell and few are on the way eternal life with Christ in heaven. Why is this so? You have to ask God when you get to heaven, but the entire Bible confirms this fact. This is God’s decision, and since God is infinitely wise we must accept that this was the best plan there is.

Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 1:3 (2X)

#2.       All Men Are Not Created Equal (Eph 1:3-8, 2:1-3)

It is an American tradition to believe that all men are created equal, and that we all are children of God. But America has stopped trusting their Bibles. What does the Bible say? Or better, what does God say whether all men are created equal. Let us read what God says about this in Eph 1:3-8,

Eph 1:3-8 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;

In other words, God the Father chose us to be in Christ before the foundation of the world, and predestined our lot so that we would stand before Him holy and without blame. And this He did entirely according to the good pleasure of His will. Verses 3-5 refer to the actions of God the Father. Verses 6-8 refer to the actions of God the Son, also known as the Lord Jesus Christ. Verses 9-11 refer to the activity of God the Holy Spirit. And how is it that we can stand before Him holy and without blame? It is because “He has made us accepted in the Beloved”, which refers to Christ. Because Christ has paid for our sins on the cross we have redemption through His blood. And all this has been paid for according to the riches of His grace. Does God do this for every human being? NO! If God would do this for every human being then there would be no need for the Father to choose who should be “in Christ”. Therefore only a small fraction of mankind is in view here. Only a small fraction of mankind will be saved this way, which is in harmony with what we found in Matt 7:13-14. And so, since we are trying to solve who “His people” are in Matt 1:21, we seem to have found the solution. The term “His people” refers to those who were chosen by the Father to be “in Christ” before the foundation of the world. This is the doctrine of election. God committed Himself to save this limited group of elect people, and God is not going to save anyone else. Not one shall be added and not one shall be forgotten. Not many people have heard that there is such a thing as election. Many churches have hidden these truths from their congregations, because it does not agree with the doctrines that they are preaching. And here we have to sound another warning. If you find that you belong to a church which does not teach the whole counsel of God, then you have been in an idolatrous church which has made up their own statement of belief, but it is not in agreement with the Bible. The god whom they worship is man made, and such idolatry is grievous in the sight of the true God of the Bible. But why do people want to set up their own gods instead of worship the God of the Bible? The answer lies in their perception of the value of man. They do not want to lose their self-respect, or their self-worth, or their self-sufficiency. But the true Gospel of the Bible states that man is basically wicked, and worthless, and deserves to be cast into Hell. There is where all mankind is going. But God, who delights in mercy, has taken delight in rescuing some from the terrible predicament that they are in. Please turn the page to Ephesians chapter 2, and let us read about God’s assessment of the human race. We read in Eph 2:1-3,

Eph 2:1-3 And you (hath he quickened) who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

To whom was God speaking? Eph 1:1 says that God was speaking to the saints which were at Ephesus. To these saints God said, “You who are now saved, were in the past dead in trespasses and sins.” You were dead, spiritually dead and you were enjoying your trespasses and sins.

  • As Dead as Lazarus (John 11:1-44, Rom 10:17, Acts 9:1-22)

Like Lazarus was dead, so dead were you in the sight of God.  We can read in the Gospel According to John about Lazarus who was dead four days before Jesus came to the cemetery and raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus was a stinking corpse. Lazarus was as dead as a doornail. But God gave us this story so that we have a better understanding of what salvation is. When the Lord Jesus shouted “Lazarus, come forth”, Lazarus could not hear, for he was dead. And yet Lazarus did come forward. And so, what has taken place? The Lord Jesus first made him alive before He called, “Lazarus, come forth.” And this is also how people are saved: First they are dead, and are not able to do anything that pleases God. Then God makes them able to hear the Gospel, then they hear the Gospel, and then they sit up and listen and understand the effective call from God. And so, this story of Lazarus illustrates what God says in Rom 10:17, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

But there is a story which even more clearly illustrates the process of salvation. Please turn to Acts of the Apostles, Acts 9:1 (2X). We read here of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. Saul was a religious zealot, full of zeal for the religion that he held, but totally ignorant of the true Gospel. But Saul was also spiritually dead. And this illustrates his spiritual deadness: He was religious, but for the wrong religion. He was dead to God, but alive to Satan. We read in Acts 9:1-22,

Ac 9:1-22  And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

Saul was as dead as Lazarus was, except Saul showed more of his spiritual deadness. Saul was fighting against the church. Saul did not want Christ. Saul did not yield himself to Christ. And yet, when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, to redeem Saul who was still under the law, that he also might receive the adoption of son of God. Please turn again to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 2:1 (2X) and let us finish our study of “His people” in Matt 1:21.

#3.       Saved By Grace (Matt 1:21, Eph 2:1-9)

What have we seen so far? We have seen that in Matt 1:21 “His people” referred to a small group of people who were the favorites of God since He chose them unto salvation before the foundation of the world. We have seen that even this small group of favorite people of God were born dead in trespasses and sins, until God decides to pour His grace upon them. We read in Eph 2:1-9

Eph 2:1-9  And you (hath he quickened,) who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

By grace are ye saved. Do we understand what this means? What is grace? Grace is unmerited favor. Can you merit unmerited favor? Of course not! Grace is a free gift. Why then are there so many people who claim to be saved the moment that they “exercised” their faith? Why are there so many people who claim that they were saved because they accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior? Is it not clear that salvation must be a gift from God, or else it is not grace?

But those for whom the Gospel call came freely, and whose salvation was all by grace, are the ones who are called “His people” in God’s sight. These people are not paying ahead, and also they are not paying back. They are not doing good works to pay back what Christ has done for them. They are simply loving Him, and are doing those things that are pleasing in His sight. They love Him, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts

And so, when we turn our eyes again to Matt 1:21, and we see there, “Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins” we can see God’s gift of mercy that was extended through Jesus Christ to all the chosen who are called the elect of God, and God’s gift of mercy came through Christ because Christ suffered and died for their sins on the cross.

AMEN.                 Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.