Isaac Watts penned the famous words: “Joy to the world! The Lord is come; Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare him room”. I love this carol, and I sing it passionately praying that the whole world would be joyful, because the Lord has come! However, the reality is that not every heart prepares Him room. Just like that first Christmas when there was no room in the Inn (or shed, stable etc.) for Jesus, many will have no room in their lives for Him this Christmas. Once again people all around us are worshipping ‘gifts’, rather than following the wise men, who worshipped by the giving of gifts to Jesus. Joy will be found in this world by those who make room for Him, those who receive their King through faith!
Well, another line in the carol is, “Joy to the World! The Saviour reigns”. If the Saviour reigns, then it means He is ruler over everything, right? Then if He is Ruler over everything, why doesn’t every heart prepare Him room? I hear many of you cry out, “because of free will people have a freedom to choose to worship Jesus or not”. Ok, but how “free” are we? Because my freedom has limits; on my own my will is enslaved to sin. My choices are subject to my sinful desires. I don’t want to sin, but my condition is corrupt and affects my choices. So my free will is not truly free, it’s cursed. Everyone on the earth is therefore subject to sin. We all have an inability to not sin! So then our freedom of the will is to sin. The Apostle Paul says that,“… you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness” (Romans 6:16). Our freedom is actually slavery! But man is free to choose? Yes he is, and that’s why he is accountable for those choices. However, freedom is enslaved to one we obey. Not the Christmas cheer you wanted, right?
Let’s tune in to the carol again, “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found”. Jesus came to reverse the curse! Where sin increased grace abounded even more (Romans 5:20-21). The slave who repents will become the slave of God. Jesus lived a perfect life, and an atoning death that accomplishes freedom for His people, for Paul says,“… having been set free from sin, [they] have become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:18). Jesus’ life and death is effective in what God wants to achieve, for those who He wants to achieve it for. The Cross of Christ doesn’t create the possibility of people to come to God, in a hope that each Christmas people would prepare Him room. No, it actually purchases salvation for those who believe. If God spent His Son’s blood for people to be saved, then it is beyond a doubt that it has been paid in full. He knows who will come, and he makes sure it will actually happen in this life. Nothing is left to chance, because “…He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love”. God rules through truth and grace! He is the only Ruler that can make the nations prove the glories of His righteousness. He isn’t limited by man’s enslavement to sin, but graciously extends true freedom through an atonement that pays the ransom for many (Mark 10:45). If Jesus did pay the price for every slave of sin, then everyone would experience freedom in Christ, but He didn’t! Jonathan Edwards says, “Christ did not intend to save those He knew He would not save. If He intended to save any it was those he knew would be saved”.
The truth is that He prepares many hearts (Ephesians 1:3-14), who will then prepare Him room through faith, so He can prepare them a room in heaven (John 14:1-3).
Joy to the world, the Saviour reigns, and rules with truth and grace. Amen.
Pastor Andrew Edmonds