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Rainbow Divider
MCM Broadcast

TV Broadcast #1002

Peace On Earth
Part One

December 18, 2011

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Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 1002 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text

— Brother Phil Enlow: Praise God! What awesome songs. Far more importantly, what awesome truths lie behind those songs. And what an awesome Person lies behind the truths that are in those songs.

( congregational amens ).

And that’s what makes all of this worth everything to us this morning, certainly to me. I just praise God! You know there was one song about the bells on Christmas Day and peace on earth, and that comes from the account in Luke chapter 2. It was read last night, but this was where we have the account of Jesus’ birth.

And the familiar scripture beginning in verse 8 says, “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them.…” (NIV). So at this point there’s just one. It says, “…And the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.”

It’s interesting whenever men encounter God or something to do with the kingdom of God and they see the glory of God, the instant reaction is terror and fear, because we know we don’t belong to that, we’re not part of that. Any manifestation of God lets us know immediately that we’re not like Him. There’s something just fundamentally different about us and we feel unclean, unworthy, something is unsettled. I thank God though that so many times, as Ben said last night, whenever this happens the first thing the angel does or the first thing the Lord does is to say, “Don’t be afraid.” So even though we have reason in a sense to be terrified of God or anything to do with God, yet God’s heart toward us is not to terrify us. I mean if God wanted to really scare the heck out of us, all He’d have to do is show up in a little tiny measure and we would all be prostrate.

( congregational amens ).

If that was really what He wanted to do, He could do it in a heartbeat, but God’s heart, thank God, is to reach out with something way different than just fear. Fear can be a positive thing if it drives us to the Lord, but it’s not a place to live. God doesn’t want us to live in a terror in that sense of the Lord.

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Not exactly the place you’d expect to find a king, but it just tells you…it gives you another picture of the humility and the humbling that Christ was so willing to endure for us. The fact that such a man, such a One, the Son of God would come at all is amazing, but that He would come in such humble circumstances just defies all of our values and all that…anything we would think.

But that wasn’t enough. It says, “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” So the angels were there praising God. It doesn’t say they sang, they may have, but somehow ‘hark the herald angels say’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it! That’s all right, we can say it that way. They praised God, whatever it was, they praised Him and these were the words that they used, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

And of course we heard the account and then the song from the poem of Longfellow. He was grappling with the idea, peace…what do you mean peace? Look, we’re in the heart, we’re in the depths of the Civil War. This is horrendous. The stuff that’s going on in our country…people are just filled with hatred, and killing one another. And there’s terrible suffering, and hundreds of thousands of people are dying for what? And it’s just…he couldn’t see it.

But you know, I think that we…many times when people hear these Christmas songs and hear the Christmas story, they are totally misunderstanding what God’s intention was in the Gospel, in the Good News. There is no place in this book where God promises that this present world will ever, ever have peace. I mean to men who live in this world, peace means the nations stop fighting each other, everybody sits around singing “Kumbaya” holding hands, and it’s just…all this sweetness and light. Nobody has any conflict with anybody else. It’s peace everywhere. Everybody just sits around and enjoys themselves.

This world will never see that. Jesus said to His followers, “In this world you will have trouble.” But He also said, “…Be of good cheer.” (KJV). Cheer up. I imagine when He said that, they said, boy, that’s glum news. That’s what I can expect to live in this world. I’m gonna have trouble. But Jesus said, cheer up, “…I have overcome the world.” And he said, “…My peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth…” Anyway, I can’t quote the exact scripture, but you know the one I’m referring to. But He promised that there would be peace!

And the message of the angels was one of peace, but it’s peace with a qualification. It’s to men on whom His favor rests. I believe there’s people here this morning that know something about what the Good News is about, because it’s not that you’re going to have peace out here, but there is a peace that God wants us to have that is a peace in the heart.

( congregational amens ).

We can be in the midst of the worst storm and many of you could raise your hands and say, yes, I’ve been there, I know what you’re talking about. We can be in the worst circumstance of life and yet on the inside there is a calm, there is a peace, and it defies what is on the outside. That’s what God has promised.

But it’s interesting: he says to men on whom His favor rests. So that begs the question…who are they? What’s involved in being one on whom God’s favor rests? You know there’s really only two ways to approach God. A lot of people try to ignore Him, try to live their lives without Him, and try to just follow the natural inclinations of their heart. That’s the world we live in folks.

That’s why it’s in the shape that’s it’s in. You can smile and you can have a nice outward moral life, but if you’re honest, you’re gonna have to look inside and say, man there’s some bad stuff in here. In order to live the way I’m supposed to live in the eyes of other people, I’ve got to really bottle up a lot of stuff that’s not good. I get angry. I’m filled with lust of every kind, evil desires, all kinds of conflicts that go on in my heart. I just am constantly against this and against that, and I feel an unrest in my heart.

That’s what the problem is. All the stuff that you see outwardly in the world comes from here. This is not something that just has been sort of imposed upon us from the outside. This is something that, yes, there is a kingdom of darkness that rules this planet. It’s unseen. And yes, that’s real. But I’ll tell you, that kingdom of darkness would have no power whatsoever were it not for the fact that men’s hearts are in agreement with that power.

We have hearts that are at enmity by nature against God. That’s where the problem comes. It isn’t that Jesus needs to show up at the United Nations one day, and tell them how it’s gonna be, and just sort of introduce peace everywhere. Oh no. Individually we are born into this world as enemies of God. And that just doesn’t mean in some vague general sense, that means you. It means me.

That means if I followed the inclinations that I was born with, I am absolutely the enemy of God. And men live with such an illusion, a delusion about their state. But how many times in the scriptures, as we’ve said, do we find men who think they’re okay? They look around and they see that maybe they’re better than average, you know. Is anybody here that’s worse than average?

( laughter ).

Give me a break. That’s how we think. We don’t put ourselves in the category of the sinner. We don’t put ourselves in the category of God’s enemy, of those who are in His eyes wicked. But the fact is that’s where…that’s the starting point. That’s the reason Jesus came…because you and I were totally consumed and controlled by something that is by a spirit, a heart that is against God, and would never bow the knee to Him—never ever have a heart of surrender, never able to be what God created us to be in the beginning. Oh I’ll tell you, He didn’t make you and me to be like we are. But sin entered—rebellion entered and the entire human race became God’s enemy.

The amazing thing about what is at least supposed to be celebrated at this time of year, the amazing thing is that the God against Whom we were against, shaking our fist in His face, defying Him, proclaiming ourselves in effect to be our own God. God, You just go away and leave us alone, leave us to do what we please. We’re doing very well, thank you. We don’t owe you anything. We’re gonna do as we please. And this is the condition of the world.

In fact, Ben quoted the scripture from Isaiah 60 last night about the conditions that prevailed at the very time that Jesus came and was born in that manger. Isaiah looked ahead with the eyes of revelation and he said, “Behold, the darkness shall cover the earth…” And lest you think it is just something out there, he said, “…And gross darkness…” Who?

( congregational response ).

“…The people.” So it’s not just something that’s in the atmosphere, it’s the people. That means they were completely blind to the way it really was, completely blind to who God was and what He was about. Yeah, they had their religion. They had fashioned for themselves, many, at least in Israel, most of them had fashioned themselves a religion that deluded them into thinking they were okay, because God spoke to a fellow named Moses back there, gave him a bunch of laws, and their religious leaders over the centuries had interpreted those laws and how they were supposed to be carried out in daily life, and they had developed a body of tradition about what it meant to serve God and how we could be pleasing in His sight.

It was all based upon what they did, and they were absolutely deluded with their sense of self-righteousness…I’m better than everybody else, I’m this, I’m that, because I obey God’s Moses, I honor the servant of God, in history of course. If He’d ever been there looking them in the face, they would have probably killed him.

But gross darkness was upon the hearts of the people. But into that very scene, Jesus came. If you need a witness to the fact that God is a God of love, that He is a God of mercy, you have no further to look than the manger. And all that followed leading up to the cross itself is the ultimate test, the ultimate demonstration of what God is about. Praise God that He was willing, when we were ungodly, when we were sinners, God sent His Son to die in our place!

Thank God for the cross! All of this is so tied together. It’s not as though Christmas is one thing and the other is the other. Everyone leads to the other. That was what His coming into the world was about. He came for that purpose. He said as much on one occasion. For this reason I came into the world. It wasn’t just to sort of try to fix things and if that didn’t work, let’s go to plan B. This was Plan A. This was God’s plan from the foundation of the world! Oh praise God!

I was listening to the…as you were, to the children this morning, and I was thinking back to the occasion we’re told about in the Gospels where Jesus was teaching, and all of a sudden some mamas came along with their little children, interrupted Him, interrupted everything and brought the little children and they wanted Him to bless them. You know I’ve tasted just a little of that. I’ve been overseas where we were there in ministry and I’ve had…many times I’ve had little children on their own come up. Sometimes they’d grab my hand and put it on their head literally. Other times Mama will come along maybe holding a baby…come on, pray for my baby. Well praise the Lord, we just prayed for them, and just thank God, and ask God to impart something to them…His love.

But you know there’s something about that in the Gospels that reveals so much about Jesus. As Ben said last night, you want to know what God’s like, look at Jesus. Because it wasn’t just Jesus was down here, and He was compassionate in all these things, and the Father was up in heaven saying, all right, Let’s see how You do down there. No! This was an absolute union of Father and Son where the Father was in the Son, and as Paul said, He “…was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself.” This was the Father Himself sitting on that occasion teaching, and the little children somehow, they got it.

We outsmart ourselves. We are so ruled by our brains and our desires that we have sort of given in to, we’ve gone in a certain direction, and it kind of begins to define who we are. But these little children had the simplicity just to sense. They didn’t have to have explanations. Like I say, we get in our own way. But here were little children who felt totally at home in the presence of Jesus. There was something about His person, it wasn’t just the things that He said, it was…they felt a welcome. They felt a peace. They felt just total peace being in His presence. Man, that should tell you something.

The disciples, of course, they were like us. They said, Lord, we’re doing important stuff here. Get these children out of here. They don’t belong to this scene. This isn’t right. Jesus said, no, don’t forbid the children. People like this, that’s who the kingdom is for. They belong to the kingdom. And He looked at the disciples and said, unless you become like little children, you won’t enter yourself. He said that to everybody around.

Oh God, help us to have that kind of a child-like sense about the Lord and about His love for us…a heart that just comes into contact with His Spirit. I mean, it’s got to be something where God comes to you and just makes Himself known, and suddenly your questions go out the window. I mean yeah, the Lord can give answers to questions, but I mean we don’t sit here in judgment of God. Okay God, if You measure up to my standards here I’ll consider my relationship. Oh no. There’s something about His very person, His very Spirit that just…if we are ever able to just humble ourselves and enter in, there is a peace—there is a peace that passes all understanding. There’s something where we can sense the welcoming, loving heart of God!

And that’s what you see just in that scene. That should reveal something to every one of us. That should cause us to hunger after that. Oh I tell you what, can you remember being a little child and you just…I don’t know, maybe you weren’t in a place where you felt that…but I’ll tell you, the desire was there. I’ll bet you that some of those that came to Jesus maybe they didn’t have it so good. But oh they got into His presence and they just felt such a love, and such a warmth, and such a…that it’s like they didn’t want to leave, He was so wonderful, and the Spirit that was about Him was so wonderful. I tell you, that’s the peace, that’s the sense that I believe God desires to impart to everyone. That’s what this is about.

But oh I tell you, we’re at war with God. As I said, there’s only two ways that people try to come to God. They either try to come based on what they do, based on some righteousness they can come up with, or else they come to it on another ground altogether! And that’s the problem. That’s where the stumbling block comes.

People will absolutely…if you could awaken in them a need, a sense that there is a God, that there is a judgment to come, that we need to be in some kind of right relationship to Him, the instinct that we all have—every single one of us has this instinct…okay, what do I have to ‘do’ to be one of those people on whom your favor rests. And the approach we have is, tell me what I’ve got to do.

And I can’t think of any way that will cause a person to miss what God was revealing, even through the words of the angels, than this. If you come to God and you try to somehow be what you think you ought to be so that He will accept you, you will not ever be accepted. It’s that simple. Nobody in the history of the world has ever found acceptance with God because they were righteous and they came to God and say, God, I have met Your standard. I have done what You expect me…I’m the kind of person that You want me to be. No one has ever been accepted like that, because if you even think that you can do that, you are already living in a delusion that there’s something good about you. You have never come to that place, and that’s the stumbling block. That’s why Jesus is a stumbling block.

Think about the situation where you are on trial for your life, and the fact is that you’re guilty. But you don’t want to paint that picture because you’re hoping for some sort of leniency from the judge, and you’re trying to portray yourself as, well, I’m a victim of this, I’m that, I’m…you know, there’s reasons why I did this. Oh I did some good here, so that should kind of offset some of this bad stuff I did. You know, all the kinds of excuses, all the kinds of ways that we have of basically repackaging ourselves and saying, I’m not really as bad as all that.

If you go through churches in America today, you will find pews full of people just like that, that have never come to the place where they understood why they needed salvation—why they needed a Savior. And so they’re coming to God trying to offer their church attendance, they’re trying to offer their moral living, their reformed living. They are trying to say, I put my money in the plate, Lord. I did all these things, and surely I’m one of yours.

You think about the people that Jesus spoke of in the Gospels, who entered a broad gate, a wide gate, and walked on a broad way and got to the end, and what did Jesus say? “Depart from me ye that work iniquity.” “I never knew you.” And here you are standing before the judge and there’s…you’re still…your defense is still revolved around you being not a bad person. You’re not really bad, you just did some bad stuff.

But one by one the prosecutor comes out, and all the witnesses are lined up, and all the facts are laid out, and every single aspect of what’s the real picture…every bit of it comes out. And there it is! And you’re brought face to face with the reality that you’re guilty and you deserve…and not only that but your guilt is such that you deserve to die.

And the judge, at that point, looks at you and says, do you have anything to say in your defense? And you’ve reached a point where you say, no. Maybe you can’t even lift up your head, your lips are sealed. There’s nothing to say. You know you are. And at that point all you could think of is, I deserve the penalty that’s being meted out here today. I have no hope. I cannot look at anything within me to muster any hope about the future. The sentence is about to be passed and the judge is just about to open his mouth, in fact he gives the sentence. He’s just about to bring the gavel down. And you’re guilty and you know it.

All of a sudden someone stands up in the courtroom, and it’s the son of the judge. And He stands up and He says, Father, I will take this man’s guilt upon Myself. I will take his punishment. I ask You to forgive him, to let him go free. Let the law be satisfied. I will take care of that, I’ll take care of the law. I love him. I want him to have a hope in the future. That’s a poor picture of what the Lord has done for you and for me. I believe there’s people here who know what that’s like.

( congregational response ).

You know. You’re not here because you think you’re a good person. You’re here because you’re a sinner, saved by grace.

( congregational amens ).

You know if it weren’t for the One that we’re singing about, you would have no just end except to be cast into the fire and rejected at the end. You know there’s nothing you could come…you know we sing the song that’s often sung, “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.”

And so you’ve got all these people though that are still trying somehow, some way to come by what they are and what they do. If you’re here this morning, oh God, He wants you to have His peace. He wants you to have it, not just to rearrange the circumstances of your life. God’s never promised that he’s gonna give you a rosy time here in the world. He’s promised you’re gonna have trouble. But He’s promised He’s gonna be with you. He’s promised you that you can have peace. You could actually have the assurance and the knowledge in your heart that all is right between you and God!