On Friday I heard this testimony from a Pastor in Edinburgh. Back in 1996 his beloved mum was in the last week of her life. He was reading 2 Kings 4 where a woman in a terrible life-crisis was on her way to seek help from the prophet Elijah. Stopped on her way and asked what the problem was she replied “all is well” – in faith that all would be sorted out. This passage jumped out of the page and this pastor knew it was a word for him from God. He sat with his mum and told her: “all will be well”. His mum died on the Sunday, and he was naturally heart-broken. But on the Wednesday he got a call from a fellow minister who told him this: “I had a dream last night, and in that dream I met your mum and she told me to tell you: ‘tell Peter all is well’ – I believe in the reality of eternal life”. What a story! What a comfort! What an encouragement!

We have seen the wonderful Christmas Promise of God:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3: 16)

Maureen has reminded us that this promise reminded her of a mnemonic coined by an old member of our church: that in this promise we find “the greatest FACT, the greatest ACT, and the greatest PACT” between God and mankind.

We have seen that the greatest FACT of all is that God so loves the world – you and me and everyone…and everything.

We have seen that the greatest ACT of all is that, because of His love, God has sent His Son – Jesus Christ – to be born for us, live for us, die for us, and rise again from the dead for us. None of this was deserved by us – it’s what the Loving Father does for us…simply because He loves us and is not willing that any of us should perish. And we have seen that more than 300 promises were fulfilled in the life of Jesus – not one of them had failed. And we have seen that you can trust the One who keeps His promises.

Now in this session we are going to rejoice at the PACT that God has made with us – you and me – through the giving of this promise…for He has promised that whoever believes in Jesus shall LIVE FOREVER IN PARADISE!!!

Let us look at the story of the birth of Jesus as recounted by Luke – in this we shall see the promise of this PACT more clearly…


In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields near by, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord12 This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.’

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

The message of the angel in verses 10-11 is the key to the fulfilment of the Promise of God to send the Messiah – the “anointed One”: ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord’.

The Promise is seen as “good news”. The “Messiah” is the One who shall save the people – all those who put their trust in Him. What is this promise to “save”? Maybe at the time it was a belief that He would free the Jews from the rule of the Romans – restoring the earthly kingdom of Israel of which He would be King. But now we understand this to be an eternal promise – a promise that our very souls will be saved – for life everlasting in the Paradise of Heaven.

This is the “good news”: what homily could I use to illustrate this wonderful promise? There is none! It is too wonderful for comparison. This is the promise that whoever believes in Jesus shall live forever in Paradise.

This is the “good news”: that death is not the end. This is why we are told – “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15: 55). We will all die – physically – but those who trust in the Lord Jesus to be their Saviour will rise from the dead and will live for ever in a place which is being prepared for us – Jesus says: “I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14: 2). This is the promise of God – a promise that we can believe in for He has shown in His fulfilment of His promises that He is trustworthy – a place where “God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21: 3-4).

This is the “good news”: that we have God’s promise that all we have to “do” to receive Eternal Life…is simply to “believe” in Him…No! Surely it can’t be as simple as this? Can it? Don’t I have to live a good life, a law-keeping life, in order to earn my way to Heaven? Don’t I have to keep away from wrongdoing? Don’t I have to go to church every week (not that this is a bad thing!)? Don’t I have to pray to God for an hour a day, give to the poor, clean my teeth (!!!), observe rituals and do things in a certain way?  NO!!! This is the Promise of God: “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3: 16). We can NEVER be good enough! We can NEVER stop doing wrong! God tells us: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3: 23). And He tells us the consequences: “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6: 23). He tells us that we can NEVER work our way to Heaven: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

This is the “good news”: do you get it? The promise of God through the angel and given to us in John 3: 16 is that we simply, simply, simply, have to believe that Jesus is our Saviour. We have to simply acknowledge that we have not been right with God. We have to simply come to Jesus and ask Him to make us right with God. We have to simply put our trust in Him to take away our sins – He really is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (the words of John the Baptist found in John 1: 29). We have to simply “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16: 31).

This is the “good news”: the Promise of God that Jesus is our Saviour…it is indeed simple, simple, simple – speaking of this good news Paul says: “it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1: 16). So why do we insist on complicating something that is so simple? Well…it’s the way that we are – always feeling that there’s something we’ve got to do to make things right; and this is, undoubtedly, leapt upon by our enemy the devil (“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” – 1 Peter 5: 8), who does NOT want us to receive this wonderful Promise of God in all its simplicity.

Without this “good news” then we, who are Christians, are of all men most to be pitied and our faith is futile (1 Corinthians 15). Why on earth would I want to go through the sufferings of being a Christian if there was no good news of eternal life? And without believing in Jesus your lives are futile – there is no hope of eternal life – for it only comes from believing in Jesus…

So…whether you have been a Christian since “God’s dog was a pup and Noah was a cabin boy” and simply need to come back to the wonderful simple Promise of God; or someone who has never received this wonderful promise for yourself…now is the time to receive anew the Good News that Jesus was sent with the promise of being our Saviour who would give us the free gift – through His Grace – of eternal life. Thank You God for sending Jesus!