The Gospel in Christmas Carols

‘Carols’ were songs sung in circles while dancing…Traditional / Communal

Protestant Reformation deemed pagan based celebration & music ‘non-essential’

Christmas was pretty bleak in the early 1800’s…

1843 Charles Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’ is published and it begins a revival of joyously celebrating Christmas, rather than it being played down by the Reformation.

The practice of people not working on Christmas sweeps Europe and America.

In 1861 the Hymnal ‘Hymns Ancient and Modern’ is published reworking many traditional Christian songs into the the standards we know today.

Singing becomes connected to the celebration of Christmas. From 1840 – 1870 popular, Biblical Christmas Carols were part of a renewed culture of setting apart Christmas as a special holiday to rival Easter in the Christian world.

And in these great songs The Gospel is firmly in-bedded

The four Christmas Carols I am looking at parts of today all came to popularity in the 1840’s – 50’s, were part of the collection Hymns Ancient & Modern, and are at the theological core of Christmas celebrations then and now.

A Picture of the Gospel: The Promise / The Separation / The Salvation / The Glory

O Come Emmanuel:

Origins in Latin Advent Liturgy from the 800’s, current form seen in 1700’s in France. A German version 1710; Hymns Ancient & Modern 1861 gave it the tune we know today.

O Come, O come Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel.

That mourns in lonely exile here, Until the Son of God appears.

Rejoice, Rejoice, Emmanuel. Shall come to thee O Israel.

Isaiah 43:1& 3

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

  • The Promise of Ransom (God not in linear time; He has ransomed)
  • ‘The Exile’ is our human condition of our sin separating us from God (mourning)
  • ‘God Among Us’: The Holy One Of Israel…the only place salvation can come from
  • He calls His People, He makes them HIS

O Holy Night:

Published in1847 the song became very popular in France: after a few years the author disavowed Christianity and the song was rejected by the church…but was kept alive by peasant class in Europe…it was revived in 1855 when it was translated into english, by 1870’s it was a classic!

Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

Psalm 130:5-8

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning—yes, more than those who watch for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption. He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

  • All of creation has been waiting since the garden…Separated from God by sin
  • Our souls long to be in union with our creator…David expressing His anticipation
  • What gives our souls their worth is Christ!
  • He will give us our value by His mercy and ‘Abundant Redemption’ (all iniquities)
  • This is what all Scripture is pointing to…

Hark The Herald Angels Sing

Original by Charles Wesley, John Wesley’s brother (he wrote 6000 Hymns) 1739. George Whitefield did a rewrite in 1754…Charles Wesley didn’t like it. In 1782, the hymn was revised yet again. In 1855, new music by composer Felix Mendelssohn, he wrote music in 1846 Dickens

Hail! the heaven-born Prince of Peace. Hail the son of Righteousness

Light and life to all He brings, risen with healing in His wings

Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die

Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth

Hark the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new born King”

Psalm 103:3-5

He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

  • Prince of Peace = Shalom
  • Son of Righteousness = God Himself
  • The healing of our sin being forgiven: SALVATION
  • He laid down His divinity to accomplish our redemption from death
  • HIS BIRTH signals the reality that we can have eternal life…in HIM
  • The ‘Renewal’ of Second Birth / wings = eagles

Joy To The World

Issac Watts 1719, part of a Psalms of David collection, the music we know today written by Lowell Mason 1848…part of Christmas revival of the 1840’s

He rules the world with truth and grace. And makes the nations prove.

The glories of, His righteousness. And wonders of His love

And wonders of His love! And wonders, wonders, of His love!

Isaiah 55:3-5

Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David. See how I used him to display my power among the peoples. I made him a leader among the nations. You also will command nations you do not know, and peoples unknown to you will come running to obey, because I, the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, have made you glorious.”

  • This is written by The Father about and to the Son..
  • Fulfillment of Davidic Kingship
  • Ruling because He is God
  • Grace & Truth: John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
  • ‘Makes’ spoke more of producing something rather than forcing something
  • The GLORY of God that Christ is!

Application: You personally search the Scriptures to find the origin of these words:

Hark The Herald Angels Sing

Christ, by highest heaven adored; Christ the everlasting Lord;

Late in time behold him come, Offspring of the favored one.

Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see; hail the incarnate Deity

Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Immanuel

Hark the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new born King”


The Story: Reveals ‘The Light’

Angel Visit / Visit to Aunt & Uncle / Trip to Bethlehem, no room, baby born, Shepherds after Angel visit show up…

Luke 2:18-20

…and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told…

Luke 2: 21-35

Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived. Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.

  • Jewish tradition of circumcision followed, connection thru Abraham
  • Jesus name in Aramaic: Yahshua, meaning: Yahweh is salvation. ‘The Light’
  • Law of Moses: present Jesus to ‘The Lord’… doing things God’s way

This is all two years before the visit of The Magi from the east…

The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.” So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—“either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

  • Offered the day after 40 day period (female child offered the day after 80 days)
  • Connection to Godly living, obedient Jews in the land…because not all were

At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

  • He is declared in God’s Word as righteous & devout!
  • The list of Individuals Scripture specifically call: ‘Righteous; Noah, Job, Abraham, David, Joseph, John The Baptist, Joseph of ArimatheaJesus!
  • The anticipation of the Messiah about 973yrs since David

That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,

  • Another point of Illumination: Angel / Star / Shepherds…Now this

Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

  • How to see the light: God Sovereign / Be A Servant / Faith in Promises
  • God’s salvation is ‘The Light’
  • Coming from Israel…for all people

Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother,

  • It is starting to sink in…all come together…
  • He did some kind of blessing… then addressed Mary specifically, not Joseph

This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”

  • The rise and fall is that people will have to take sides
  • Jesus spoke of the division He would cause: Matthew 10:34

Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.”

  • He is straight from God but not everyone will see it.
  • What is believed about Him, The Christ, will reveal the depth of a soul
  • And Mary, it is gonna be rough on you!

1 John 1:1-4

We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This One, who Is life itself (Salvation) was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the One who is eternal life.

He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.

The greatest gift anyone can get is to fully see the light of Christ and live in surrendered fellowship with His disciples: What we were created for!

Application Questions: (answer with ‘I’ statements)

On a scale of 1 – 10 how important is it to You to do things God’s way? Why?

Why should YOU put the whole story of Scripture together about Christ’s Advent?

What’s standing between YOU and “The Light of Christ’, keeping You from seeing?

What of the deepest thoughts in YOUR heart are not settled about Christ?

How are You going to fully share in the Joy of Christ’s birth?

The Old Testament is All About Christ

This season is so meaningful and magical for a reason

Advent season / Christmas season is the celebration of the apex of human history

God has been revealing Himself and peaks with the birth of Jesus Christ

God coming to earth as one of us is the ultimate revelation of His Truth & Grace

My desire: for you to see all of Scripture and human History pointing to ‘The Advent’!

The Bible is long and Layered for a reason. It prepares us to see and receive Jesus as the only solution to our problem and the only Savior from our sin.” ~ Christ from Beginning to End by Hunter & Wellum

Adam & The Garden:

Adam is representative of all humanity (Prophet / Priest / King)

Because of sin Adam failed in all of these roles.

Genesis 3:6

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

  • Wanted to be like God instead of be with God…(same sin as Satan)

Genesis 3:15

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

  • One day God will use humanity to right what went wrong
  • Until the whole story is complete there will be conflict (Fallen World)

Adam was meant to represent humanity as Prophet, Priest & King…

With the introduction of sin creation was corrupted:

Adam failed as Prophet: unable to speak truth or blessing.

Adam failed as Priest: unable to stand in God’s presence

Adam failed as King: traded God’s presence for a chance to become God

God Himself must restore creation, reestablish His Covenant and remove sin, How?

Noah & The Flood:

Noah is the 1st prototype of a ‘Savior’ but he has the same problem Adam had: Sin

Genesis 6:7-8

So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

  • We see the themes of judgement for sin and salvation by grace

The Flood was not really a ‘Renewal of Creation’ because the sin problem came with Noah, even though he was favored of God He could not give others God favor…

Two chapters later; Tower of Babel: ‘Make a name for ourselves’…the sin of pride

In the flood we do see a foreshadowing of ‘The New Creation’ to come

Abraham & The Patriarchs:

The promise of God’s redemption finds a people to be the source

From Abraham to Issac (The Child of Promise) to Jacob ‘Israel’ a nation is set apart

Abraham is declared righteous by faith and his ‘spiritual descendants’ will be also

God promised Abraham He would bless all people through his descendants

Abraham was about to sacrifice that son of promise…

Genesis 22:13-14

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns.He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

  • He was willing to sacrifice everything for God…surrender

Many believe the exact spot where this happened is where Jesus was Crucified!

The necessary sacrifice would have to be provided by God Himself…BE God Himself

Moses, The Exodus & The Law:

Exodus: Deliverance from Bondage to Egypt (God given redemption)

A promised land of ‘Rest’ living by God’s law (God given peace; Shalom)

Moses is the Prophet that delivers His People…(God given direction)

The ‘Tabernacle’ where God dwells with them (God Given Community)

It all Points to a Greater Expression of God’s Love!

A Greater Exodus: The Exodus from Egypt foreshadowed deliverance from sin

A Greater Rest: Promise of ‘Rest’ in the promised land…Christ would bring true rest

A Greater Prophet: Moses foretold of a greater prophet, the anticipated Messiah

A Greater Tabernacle: God dwelling in believers…Fullness of that brought by Christ

David The King:

A convergence of previous promises in David, another prototype Savior

He is God’s chosen leader, yet He is not the one who will be the true savior

2 Samuel 7:12b-14

I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.

  • The promised Messiah, one who would do what humanity itself could not do

The beginning of a line of humanity that God will bring the Messiah from…

David & Solomon represent the apex of the nation of Israel…

The Prophets:

God speaks thru the prophets to clarify what He is doing

They review and preview all redemptive History: (Sin / Judgement / Redemption)

They point to what God will ultimately do to restore Shalom…(Right Relationship)

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

  • The fullness of the Triune God is to be revealed in the promised Messiah

Jesus The Messiah:

God used human types to foreshadow the all God all human Messiah: Christ!

All scripture was setting the stage for the advent of God’s salvation bringer

We truly understand Jesus the Christ by understanding the Old Testament

If we understand ‘The Whole Story’ we understand how we are to surrender our lives

Luke 1: 30-33

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

  • It all comes together in Jesus Christ
  • All pointing to eternity where God restores everything

I hope this overview inspires you

I have a challenge for us as a to search the Old Testament Scriptures

A challenge for our church in the coming year:

Read the whole Bible in a year! Back to the One year reading plans

‘Trusting God in Your Current Situation’ 7:12-24

Focus in on the principals here and apply them to relationships you have that are committed and longstanding where the other is not a Biblically Converted Christ Follower (parents, siblings, uncles, nieces, grandparents, coworkers, neighbors)

None of these people can have been Christians for more than 5-7 yrs max, 2-3 avg.

Now, I will speak to the rest of you, though I do not have a direct command from the Lord. If a fellow believer has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her. And if a believing woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him.

  • Unstable situation of Corinth at the time of the writing of this letter
  • Previous teaching from Paul about ‘Being Equally Yoked in Marriage’
  • This concerns people who were married before Christ known of (last 8yrs max)
  • If your spouse has not come to Christ yet, and you have: hang in there!
  • Emulating Christ: Go the extra mile, do your best, let God work
  • This is where you are, Trust God; live for Him & with Him right here, right now!

For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy. (But if the husband or wife who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the believing husband or wife is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.)

  • God wants you to bring the holiness to your marriage that He brought to you!
  • You sanctify your children, dedicate them to Christ (Trust God with them)
  • It is up to you to pass on to your children what God has put in you: His Spirit!
  • Live for Christ if the unbelieving spouse stays or goes; let God lead the other
  • There is no peace in a marriage without shared values & willingness to try
  • God is in charge: if they leave God has that for you (freedom in God’s choice)

Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? And don’t you husbands realize that your wives might be saved because of you? Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you. This is my rule for all the churches.

  • Here is why you hang in there: Salvation of a Soul (value that by persevering)
  • Grow yourself and others where you are planted, God has placed you there
  • Let God change your situation, let Him finish what He is doing in this season
  • Paul’s rule because it promotes unity, stability & strength of new churches
  • God changes some people’s situation, but we should let Him do it (wait on Him)
  • Do you have an other’s basis for wanting new circumstances or a self basis?

For instance, a man who was circumcised before he became a believer should not try to reverse it. And the man who was uncircumcised when he became a believer should not be circumcised now. For it makes no difference whether or not a man has been circumcised. The important thing is to keep God’s commandments.

  • He is saying: “It is what it is now”
  • What we are called to do, with the current circumstances, is fully live for God!
  • He didn’t make a mistake putting you where you are, He has his reasons
  • Let the main thing be the main thing!

Yes, each of you should remain as you were when God called you. Are you a slave? Don’t let that worry you—but if you get a chance to be free, take it. And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord.

  • We are called to be less concerned with our status than we are about Jesus
  • Whatever your situation here and now can you live from what your eternity is?

And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ. God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world. Each of you, dear brothers and sisters, should remain as you were when God first called you.

  • Do you identify as a slave of Christ? Has the Gospel penetrated your soul?
  • Do you value more than anything the fact that Christ actually bought you?
  • Always wanting different circumstances is a symptom ‘Un-Surrenderedness’
  • Christ died to free us from this world’s needs and desires…
  • This Christmas season make Him your focus not your circumstances
  • Keep it simple, live fully surrendered to God right here, right now

Application Questions:

Why does Paul suggest if a marriage is ‘Unequally Yoked’ they should stay together?

How do you bring ‘holiness’ to marriage whether your spouse is a believer or not?

What is the critical principal for disciples of Christ when making key life choices?

What things are most important as we exercise our freedom in Christ?

Honoring God With Our Sexuality

As disciples of Jesus Christ we ‘GET’ to obey God, by the power of HIS Spirit.

This is to include every aspect of our lives, as we grow in understanding God’s will.

We have to live for God while we live in the midst of a society that disregards God.

How do we acknowledge the reality of temptation we face & still walk with Christ?

In all such matters it is critical to have the ‘Why’ solidified in our beliefs.

Why do we want to Honor God with our sexuality?

Last Week: 6:19-20

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Once we have the ‘Why’ settled we can work on the how…

The crucial message contained in today’s text is when done God’s way, sex or celibacy can be humanly fulfilling AND God honoring…the KEY is ‘done God’s way’.

In all of our relationships, as disciples of christ, we get to obey and put others 1st.

And that is what we are called to do when it comes to sex: do it God’s way!

1st Corinthians 7:1-11

Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.”

  • We believe this is a response to a question
  • Best solution is not to have sex become an idol, not have it lead you around…
  • It is not necessary, through God’s gifting, allowing you to focus on other things
  • But there is a way to honor God and have sexual relations…Marriage!

But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.

  • Since people are living based on their urges and since the temptation exists
  • The only way God designed this level of intimacy is in a marriage covenant
  • Marital Duty: this is about caring for the other and being committed to them
  • In Christian Marriage we treat our spouse as Christ treats us

The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.

  • ‘One Flesh’ is how God desires a woman and a man to be in marriage
  • 1st we have with Christ: ‘You are not your own, you were bought at a price
  • We can honor that by relinquishing ourselves to each other
  • The level of union is meant to be ‘Other-Centered’
  • Absolute equality in the marriage relationship as revealed in scripture
  • Loving consensus is how couples are to set expectations

Let every man, says he, have his own wife, and every woman her own husband; that is, marry, and confine themselves to their own mates. And, when they are married, let each render the other due benevolence, consider the disposition and exigency of each other, and render conjugal duty, which is owing to each other. For, as the apostle argues, in the married state neither person has power over his own body, but has delivered it into the power of the other, the wife hers into the power of the husband, the husband his into the power of the wife.” ~ Matthew Henry

Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

  • Provide for each other, don’t let depravation happen…
  • Example of putting sex on lower priority than seeking God
  • Each should sacrifice their own personal preference on an equal basis
  • Every couple should see themselves as a team fighting temptation together
  • ‘Your lack of self control’… basic human condition

I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

  • ‘This’ refers to the agreed upon hiatus in sexual relations (not to be the norm)
  • He wishes they were blessed as he is with singleness
  • but he is not who hands out gifts…

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

  • If this is what God has for you then make the best of it
  • But if you are not gifted to be single and so you don’t struggle with lust…

To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

  • This is a call to see marriage as God does: permanent / One Flesh
  • One Flesh will always seek to be reconciled to itself

Application Questions:

Why & how might you cultivate and practice a more ‘Biblically Informed View’ of Sex?

Why is healthy, fulfilling sex in a marriage important to God?

How can ‘Others Focused Intimacy’ protect your spouse from temptation?

What can help you have open, honest conversations about sex with your spouse?