Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
On this holy night, grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
It is written: For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Thus far the text.
Let us pray: O God of grace, who gives salvation for the sake of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, grant us faith in Jesus and train us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions so that we may live self-controlled lives in this present age; in the name of Jesus. Amen.
For the grace of God has appeared. A long time before that first Christmas Eve, it is written in Nehemiah 4 that the Lord released His people from their Babylonian captivity and returned them to Jerusalem. The Lord graced His people. The Lord gave His people a good gift they did not deserve. That is grace.
The Lord gave His people to rebuild the fortified wall around Jerusalem. With one hand, the people built the wall. With the other hand, they held as sword because many enemies wanted to stop both the building project and also the return of the Lord’s people.
The apostle Paul teaches the same to the Lord’s people in the New Testament (Titus 1:9). He teaches pastors to use Holy Scripture as both bread to build up and sword to defend the Lord’s people. Bread and weapon for feeding and resisting; in peace and in war. With one hand, we must build, improve, teach and feed all Christians. With the other hand, we must oppose the devil, expose false teachers, and resist the sin which infect the world and our own flesh. For where Christians are not defended, the devil will soon destroy them. The devil is bitterly opposed to God’s Word. God granting His grace to us, let us so handle the Gospel that not only your souls be fed but also that you should put on that Gospel as armor and fight your enemies.
On the Eve of Christ’s birth, the apostle Paul is teaching the young pastor Titus to preach on one topic always; Jesus Christ is that one topic.
For the grace of God has appeared. How has the grace of God appeared? The apostles preached the birth of Christ around the world. They preached a message that was directed to the whole world; every nation; every town; every street; every time and place including Muscatine, Iowa. Previous to Christ’s resurrection the grace of God appeared only in the Holy Land. The grace of God was no revealed to all nations; only one. There were no Old Testament missionaries. Before that first Christmas, Jesus Christ lived only in Jerusalem in the Most Holy Place of the temple. Before Christ’s resurrection, the grace of God was unrevealed. But after His ascension, the Babe of Bethlehem gave His Holy Spirit to men.
For the grace of God has appeared. The meaning is this: Jesus Christ did not come to dwell on earth for His own advantage; but for our good. Jesus Christ did not keep His goodness or His grace to Himself.