The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.

(Matthew 1:23, ESV)
 
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Christmas is one of my favorite seasons. I enjoy the family get-togethers, the food, the music, the lights, you name it! Most of all, though, I enjoy Christmas because it re-focuses our attention upon Christ.
 
We tend to get so caught up in the busyness of the holiday that we lose proper focus, but it need not be that way. One way we can maintain our focus is by observing Advent (the word Adventmeans coming). Advent is the time of the year – beginning with the fourth Sunday before Christmas and usually culminating with a Christmas Eve service – when we look back to the first coming of Christ and look forward to His second coming. The lighting of the Advent candles in hopeful anticipation of the return of Christ is the most common symbol of the season. While Scripture does not command us to celebrate or observe Advent, this tradition can be a helpful way to instruct your family on the true meaning of Christmas over several weeks leading up to Christmas Eve. So, to keep you and your family’s eyes fixed upon the Christ of Christmas, you may want to celebrate the season with the lighting of the Advent candles in your home each week during a time of family worship. Use the following thoughts and Scriptures to help you focus on Christ this Christmas. May God help us to maintain a proper focus.
 
 

First Sunday in Advent

December 2—Mark 13:24-37

The first Sunday in Advent begins a week of reflection upon the Second Coming of Christ. In John’s gospel, Jesus comforted His disciples by reminding them that He would come again (John 14:3).  Christians today live with the hope that Jesus is coming again!

 

Second Sunday in Advent

December 9—Mark 1:1-8

Beginning with the second Sunday in Advent, we consider the need to prepare for Christ’s return.  Hopeful waiting requires spiritual preparation, “so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming” (1 John 2:28).

 

Third Sunday in Advent

December 16—John 1:6-8, 19-28

Joy marks the observance beginning the third Sunday in Advent. Jesus’ birth was good news of great joy for all the people (Luke 2:10). It was news of joy because it was this Jesus who came to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21) by giving His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).

 

Fourth Sunday in Advent

December 23—Luke 1:26-38

God with us is the theme of the fourth week of Advent. Through the conception of the Holy Spirit, Jesus entered this world in human flesh so that He could reconcile all things to God through His fleshly body (Colossians 1:22). No PM service this Sunday due to Christmas Eve service the following evening.

 

Christmas Eve

Monday, December 24—Luke 2:1-20

On Christmas Eve we celebrate the birth of Christ. Join us this Christmas Eve at 6:00 p.m.as we come together for a time of corporate worship for our annual Christmas Eve Candlelight service.
 
 

Whether or not you choose to incorporate the Advent celebration tradition, may we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus during this busy season that can so easily distract us from the Christ of Christmas.

Love,
 


The High Pointe Theology Conference

“Christ from Beginning to End”

 

Guest Speaker: Stephen Wellum, PhD

Time: 9 am – 5 pm; Saturday, April 28, 2018

Cost: Free (no childcare provided)
 

How we see Christ and how we read the Bible are directly related. And while many people are encouraged to know that the Bible is about Christ, they end up discouraged when they can’t explain how the Bible’s various parts relate to him. Some attempt to force the pieces of the Bible together, making superficial jumps to Jesus. Others give up trying to understand the Bible altogether, losing confidence in God’s Word.

So, how can we read the Bible in such way as to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ on every page of Scripture? We need a full reading of Scripture, one that reads the Bible according to its nature, its structure, and its own agenda.

Join us this Saturday, April 28, from 9am-5pm, as Dr. Stephen Wellum helps us to put the Bible together, seeing how it’s all about Christ, from beginning to end.

Dr. Wellum is professor of theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has also served in pastoral ministry in churches in South Dakota and Kentucky. Dr. Wellum is a highly regarded theologian and has spoken at various conferences in the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom. His latest book, written with Trent Hunter, is Christ from Beginning to End: How the Full Story of Scripture Reveals the Full Glory of Christ. This will be the theme of our conference.

 

Conference Schedule:

9:00am – 9:15am                  Introduction and Song

9:15am – 10:15am                  Session 1

10:15am – 10:30am                Break and Song

10:30am – 11:30am                Session 2

11:30am – 1:00pm                  Break for Lunch – on your own

1:00pm – 1:15pm                    Music

1:15pm – 2:15pm                    Session 3

2:15pm – 2:30pm                  Break and Song

2:30pm – 3:30pm                 Session 4

3:30pm – 3:45pm                 Break and Song

3:45pm – 4:45pm                 Q&A

4:45pm – 5:00pm                 Closing

 

 

If you have any additional questions, email Marshall Canales at marshall@highpointeaustin.org. We look forward to seeing you at the first annual High Pointe Theology Conference!


Christ, The First-fruits of Our Resurrection

“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” – 1 Corinthians 15:20, ESV

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon reminds us that God has put eternity in the human heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11). It’s no wonder, then, that we all have questions about life after death. But what do people believe about the afterlife? Atheists believe this life is all there is. If that’s the case, then we should eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. Most other people in the world, though, regardless of culture, ethnicity, or nation believe in some form of afterlife. All the religions of the world hope for some sort of eternal life, whether heaven or paradise or ultimate reality. Those who hold to Eastern views likely believe in reincarnation: a seemingly endless cycle of incarnations until one is finally united with ultimate (spiritual) reality. One of the most popular perspectives (also spiritual) is commonly portrayed through Hollywood movies consumed with the paranormal: i.e., ghosts.
 

Because God has put eternity in our hearts, we know that this life is not all there is. Christianity teaches that every person is born a sinner and deserves God’s judgment, which is death. But Christ lived a life pleasing to God and died on the cross to receive the penalty for sin we all owe. On the third day, God raised Jesus from the dead, indicating that He accepted Jesus’ life and death as a substitute life and death for all who believe in Jesus. Through Christ, and only through Christ, all who believe have the hope of eternal life with God.

On Sunday morning, April 1, we will celebrate the living hope that we have in Jesus that all who believe in Him will also experience a resurrection from the dead, a physical resurrection to eternal life with the triune God. This is what the Old Testament taught (Daniel 12:1-3); this is what Jesus taught (John 5:25-29); and this is what the Jews believed (John 11:23-26).  What do you believe? Apparently, some Corinthians denied the reality of the resurrection of the dead (1 Cor. 15:12).  They did not deny the afterlife; they denied a physical afterlife.  Therefore, they had no place for a resurrected body.  It is this denial that Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians 15.

If you deny the resurrection of the dead, then by consequence, you deny Jesus’ resurrection (15:1-19). Paul’s basic argument: If Christ is being preached as raised from the dead, and if you (Corinthians) embraced this gospel, then how can you deny the resurrection of the dead (15:12). Paul preached the resurrection of Christ as essential to the gospel (15:1-11). To deny the resurrection of the dead is to deny the resurrection of Christ because Christ’s resurrection is the basis for ours. If Christ has not been raised, then there is no hope for the living. We are still in our sins; there is no forgiveness; and our faith is without basis (15:14-17). Further, if Christ has not been raised, there is no hope for the dead; their bodies are in the ground decaying and nothing more (15:18). If Christ has not been raised, then Christians are the most pitiful people on earth (15:19).

But in fact Christ has been raised, and His resurrection guarantees ours (15:20-28). By faith in Christ we are united to Him in His death, burial and resurrection (15:20-22; cf. Romans 6:1-11). Just as our union with the first Adam brings forth death, so our union with the last Adam brings forth life. However, everything happens in its own order: Christ, the firstfruits of the harvest, then at His coming, the full harvest to come-the resurrection of the dead (15:20, 23). Jesus’ first coming inaugurated the kingdom, the beginning of His reign (15:25-27). At that time Jesus crushed Satan (Genesis 3:15), accomplishing forgiveness of sin for those who believe (Colossians 2:15). Now, Jesus is ruling Lord, crushing His enemies under His feet (Hebrews 2:5-9). When Jesus returns, then comes the end, the final resurrection when death will be defeated (15:24, 26, 28, 54-57). This is Christian hope!

Since Christ has been raised, we do have hope! Therefore, UNTIL Christ returns we must live consistently with the knowledge of Jesus’ resurrection (15:29). As we await the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23), our lives must declare this hope! 

  • With the hope of the resurrection, we know that to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). Consequently, we will not fear death, for Christ has defeated sin and death and Satan (Hebrews 2:14-18).
  • With the hope of the resurrection, we know that to live is Christ (Philippians 1:21). Our lives have meaning, purpose in Christ. We will not sit idly by and await the return of Christ. We will be willing to suffer for the sake of the gospel (15:30-32; Philippians 3:7-11). We will press on in pursuing holiness so as not to be ashamed on that day (15:33-34; Philippians 3:12-21). 

What does your life say about what you believe concerning the resurrection of the dead? Join us Easter Sunday, April 1, as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and look forward to our own resurrection to eternal life with God. And encourage others who need this same hope to come with you. We are looking forward to a glorious celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.

Love,