IN THE FULNESS OF TIME Galatians 4:4; Luke...

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Galatians 4:4; Luke 2:1-14

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law – Galatians 4:4

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while kwi-rin-i-us was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men! - Luke 2:1-14

I want to take us on a journey in our minds. I want go back through the portals of time to a distant and dark night in a faraway land. I want us to imagine being outside of Bethlehem, on the night that Jesus was born. I want you to imagine seeing and hearing Angels proclaiming a heavenly announcement. I want you to imagine, being compatriots with shepherds watching sheep. You are out there, a very mundane and ordinary night. You are doing what you always do, and out of nowhere an angel of the Lord appeared, and announced the GOOD NEWS, that what Israel was expecting had arrived. The angel announces that the redeemer the world so desperately need had arrived. The angel comes and announces that expectations had now been realized, that hope is now actualized, that centuries of anticipation has now been satisfied, salvation is now made manifest! Can you imagine hearing an angel say; “I bring good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. Can you imagine that it got so good that a choir of angels took their places in celestial choir stand loft of clouds and begin to singing praises to God the Father. What this angelic announcement was really proclaiming is that the fullness of time had come! In our Galatians text, Paul is relating back to what we call the Christmas story found in the Luke text. When Jesus was born it was a long awaited and much anticipated event. However, most of the folk had no idea what was going on! The same is happening today, God is doing great things, magnificent things, miraculous things and most people are clueless. You have to be keen to the time and seasons, God is working out his eternal plan, and people are completely clueless as to what is going on. Every day, every moment, God is fulfilling time. The fullness of time means that at exactly the right moment, at the most precise time and place, God’s purpose and plan is unfolded and revealed. It’s the fullness of time that allows you see another day. It’s the fullness of time, that. This text tells us that what happened in a moment, that what could seem like an isolated and insignificant event, was something that was planned from eternity. And so it goes everyday, God’s plan, and God’s purpose is unfolding and there is an exact moment, a fullness of time that is coming that will mean his purpose is now complete. But what does Paul’s ancient text, about another ancient event do for us today? We all know the Christmas story that the baby Jesus was born in a manger was wrapped in swaddling clothes, and shepherds and wise men came to worship him. But the fullness of times goes beyond the little town of Bethlehem, goes beyond the manger, and the silent night. It reaches back to eternity past, and stretches to eternity future, and arrests us now in this kairos moment, and lets us know that God has something for you and right now and today! So let us take a look at the fullness of time, then and now.


WHEN THE FULLNESS OF TIME HAD COME. The Promise was kept. The Old Testament is full of promises or prophesies. They begin when in Genesis 3:15 God promises us that a redeemer would come, and this redeemer would bruise the head of the serpent Satan, and provide atonement for the sin fallen condition of man. It was prophesied or promised that this Messiah would be from the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and from the tribe of Judah. The New Testament is full fulfillments of the promises of the Old Testament. Like in the first chapter of the gospel according to Matthew, Matthew gives us the genealogy of Christ, and when we look at that family tree confirms, it confirms the fact that Jesus was indeed was the seed of the Patriarchs, and of the tribe of Judah. It was prophesied or promised that Jesus would be heir to the throne of David. It was the Old Testament prophet Isaiah that says in Isaiah 9:6-7; 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.” The New Testament writer Luke records in Luke 1:31-, 33 “Then 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 bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give 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.”

In the fullness of time the promise was kept, the prophecy was fulfilled. In the Old Testament, Micah 5:2 says that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. In the New Testament, Luke records; that it came to pass, in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. And Joseph with Mary, pregnant with Jesus went up from Nazareth, into the City of David called Bethlehem.

In the fullness of time, the promise was kept, the prophecy was fulfilled. It was fulfilled not only in Christ’s birth, but it was fulfilled in His destiny. Jesus was born as a baby on a mission, with not much time to complete it. His task, all that He did was to do and complete the will of His Father. And in doing that He fulfilled the prophecy of the promises that God had made. Yes, In the Fullness of Time. In the fullness of time is important today, because God is still busy. God is still in control, and God still has some appointed times! Paul in our text is talking about a prophecy that was fulfilled. Often we miss the blessings and benefits of what God is doing for us now and believing what he will do for us still, simply because we fail to recognize what God has done in times past. The good news is that because prophecy was fulfilled we can be sure that prophecy will be fulfilled. What am I saying? I am saying that because God has kept his promises, we can trust that God will keep his promises! A promise goes forth into unfilled time. It reaches ahead of its speaker and its recipient, to mark an appointment between them in the future. God has made us some promises, and what God has spoken with his mouth God can and will perform with his hand, for his word does not return void. All the promises of God are confirmed in Jesus. The promised Word has become flesh. The new covenant has been inaugurated. Jesus is its guarantee and the Holy Spirit is the first installment. God has a track record of making a way out of no way! What this means is that it doesn’t matter what you are going through, no matter what you are dealing with, God will show up at his appointed time! That’s what the fullness of time means; at God’s own appointed time. The old folks used to say that he may not come when you want him, but He is always right on time! In the fullness of time God sent his Son, he showed up. And it’s still in the fullness of time that God still shows up! I think I may have a witness or two here. Somebody that knows that God will make a way out of no way! You can testify this morning that God will show up! You were out of work, but in the fullness of time, God blessed you! And now you can turn down job offers! God keeps his promises! You were down to your last dime, had no where to turn, but in the fullness of time, at just the right time, God stepped in! They said you wouldn’t make it, said that you would never amount to anything. And for a while, it looked like they were right, but in the fullness of time, God stepped in and flipped the script, and look at you now! You are doing better now than you ever have! Do I have a witness? God will keep his promises in the fullness of time! It may look bleak right now. It may look gloomy, right now. It may seem dim, right now. But in the fullness of time, God will keep his promise!

II. WHEN THE FULLNESS OF TIME HAD COME. Salvation was realized. In Luke 2:8-14 the Angel of the Lord told the shepherds; “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Now we now that the redemptive plan of God began, before even the fall of man. For John in Revelation calls Jesus the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. But when Jesus was born the plan was put into action, or realized. That’s why when John the Baptizer saw Jesus, he declared in prophetic voice and authority; “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” When Jesus was born salvation was realized. It was Jesus himself saying to Nicodemous; “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”? When Jesus was born in the fullness of time salvation was realized. Can you see Simeon? Old man Simeon who had waited on the promise of the Lord. When Joseph and Mary brought the baby Jesus to the temple according to the custom of the law, the bible says that Simeon took Jesus in his arms, and that he blessed God and said; “Let me depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation.” When Jesus was born, in the fullness of time, Salvation was realized. You may ask; how can a baby, even if he is the baby Jesus, be the realization of salvation? Most of us think of salvation as more of an Easter theme, than a Christmas topic, but if you really think about it, Christmas is all about salvation.

For we do an injustice when we at Christmas think only of the crib, for the truth of the matter is that the cross is just as much a part of Christmas as is the crib. Yes, at Christmas we celebrate His birth, but we must remember that he was born to die! The same Jesus that we see in the manger, is the same Jesus we see in the garden, praying till His sweat turned like blood, saying; “Not my will, but Your will be done! The Jesus we see in the crib is the same Jesus we see on the cross! The Jesus that is wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger, is the same Jesus that was wrapped in grave clothes, and lying in a borrowed tomb! The same Jesus, who left the crib, and was taken to Egypt, is the very same Jesus, who after dying for the sins of the world, got up early on Sunday morning; it’s the same Jesus, who declared all power in His hand! The same Jesus! It’s not a long road from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. Salvation was realized because that was his purpose. In the fullness of time, salvation was realized on earth, as it had been conceived in heaven. My sins can now be forgiven. I no longer have to die in my sin. I no longer am a slave to a law that I can’t keep. I have some options now! I can choose Jesus!

III. WHEN THE FULLNESS OF TIME HAD COME. When Jesus was born. God became accessible. We know that there is only one way to the Father. Jesus tells us in the 14th chapter of John, He says; “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man cometh to the Father, but by me.” Before Christ was born, sinful man, had to rely upon sinful man to gain access to the mercy seat of God. The Levitical system was a flawed system, not flawed in its design, for it was designed by a flawless God, but it was flawed in its implementation, for it had in its components and workings, men who by their very nature were sinful. It is impossible for a sinful man to have the right relationship with the Holy God Before Christ; man had to depend upon man, to implement the sacrificial laws of atonement. But, in the fullness of time, when Jesus was born, he became not only the sacrificial lamb, but he became the great High Priest. We have access to the father through Jesus. The bible says that there is but one mediator between God and man, the Man Jesus Christ. Yes, it’s true that the Israelites always had limited access to God, for the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were given a special place in the heart of God. Even when God refused to hear their cries and pleas for mercy, he would only refuse for so long. Even after they constantly turned from him, and turned to wickedness, after a season God would hear them and He would deliver them.

But in the fullness of time, the Jew as well as the Gentile, the rich as well as the poor, the learned, as well as the unlearned, common folk, as well as royalty, all of humanity gained access to the God. Look at the characters in the narrative around the birth of Jesus; first of all he was born to an ordinary. Mary had neither fortune nor fame, yet God declared her blessed among women, and bestowed upon her the privilege of carrying in her womb, and rearing to maturity the Christ child. One would think that the Son of God, if He were to have a mortal mother, that she would at least be some royal person, that she would at least be an Aristocrat or a Queen, but Mary was common, she was ordinary. So In the fullness of time ordinary people, people like you and me gained access to God. Then look at the wise men, tradition says that they were of royalty, that they were three kings from the East, who were following a star. The truth of the matter is that these fellows were pagans, who had a distorted view of theology and religion. The reason they were following a star was that they were all caught up, in astrology, which is forbidden in the Bible. But these wise men were able to behold the Christ. In the fullness of time, even people with mixed-up, and messed up, beliefs and attitudes, even folk who had a misguided religion, now have access to God, and to God’s mercy. In the fullness of time the invitation from the Father, went beyond a few chosen people, and expanded to whosoever. Do I have a witness? Look at the shepherds, these shepherds represent average Jews. These shepherds were not the religious elite of Israel, yet the angel came to them. The angel did not come to the Pharisees, the Sadducees, or the Scribes, but he came and announced the birth of Christ to shepherds. Well, that tells me that when Jesus was born, in the fullness of time, God became accessible to those of us who only have a simple faith. In the fullness of time, I gained access to God without complicated ritual. In the fullness of time, I gained access to the father without expensive ceremony. Because Jesus was born, whenever I need the Father, whenever I need to call on the Lord, I have access. If I need the Lord early in the morning, I have access. If I need him, even in the midnight hour, whenever I need Him, I have access! At anytime, I can just cry out and say; Father, I stretch my hand to thee, no other help I know! Do I have a witness here? In the fullness of time, God became accessible to whosoever!


So, finally as I close, we know that everything happens in the fullness of time. Luke says that in the fullness of time, when God got ready, there were a multitude of angels, a heavenly host, praising God and saying; “Glory to God in the highest!, and on earth, peace and goodwill toward men.” In the fullness of time, God will give you peace. Do I have a witness? Don’t you hear Jesus say; “Peace, I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world gives do I give unto you.” I stopped by just long enough to tell you; in the fullness of time, God gave us peace! Peace on earth! In the fullness of time, God gives peace to a troubled world. He gives peace to heavy hearts. He brings peace! Peace to weary minds. Peace to burdened souls. But I’m closing here, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! I can’t leave you with just peace, because peace always travels with joy! Joy! In the fullness of time, he brought joy! Great joy! Can you say joy? For in our text the angel said; “I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” Joy to the world! In the fullness of time, Jesus brought joy He brought joy to the world! Joy, down in my soul! Joy, Sweet, soul saving joy! Joy! In the fullness of time, he brought joy! The song writer said: Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her king. Let every heart prepare him room. He brings joy. Joy to the earth, the savior reigns! Joy, unspeakable joy! Everything may not be perfect now, but I still have joy! I may have some hard times, but I still have joy! Even through my pain, I still have Joy! Even in my struggles, I still have Joy! When I’m lonely, all by myself, I still have joy! He walks with me, and talks with me, tells me I am his child!

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