Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 November 29, 2015
“Jesus, Our Wonderful Counselor”
Text: Isaiah 9:6-7
We arrive once again in the Christian year at the season bounded early by the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas and late by Christmas Eve, to wit, Advent. The word advent comes from a Latin verb meaning to come, and at this time in the Christian year we think of two comings, so to speak, of Jesus Christ. We recall His first advent as the Babe of Bethlehem. We recall Him meek and mild of mean estate—and we must marvel at such infinite condescension for our souls’ eternal benefit. We also anticipate His second advent at the consummation of the age—when He shall return visibly and bodily on the clouds of Heaven, when He shall vanquish evil finally, and when He shall set everything right in the new Heaven and the new earth. This is a wonderful time of year—and, for our souls, needful medicine against the soul-chipping grind that is American consumerism in late November and December.
This Advent, God willing, we look at each of the four appellations applied to Jesus in Isaiah 9:6-7. Isaiah declares prophetically there that Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, our Everlasting Father, and our Prince of Peace. Again, God willing, we treat each of these in turn, and we begin today by looking at Jesus, our Wonderful Counselor. Let us hear the Lord as He speaks in His Word.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
When we think of Jesus as our Wonderful Counselor, we think chiefly of His wise counsel and guidance addressed to our souls. This is a right thing to think, and we shall deal with it presently, but first let’s look at our Wonderful Counselor as He functioned in eternity past. First, Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor at creation. He was of counsel within the indissolubly unified Godhead. As God’s creation decree works out in time and space, we see Jesus as the instrumental means of creation. Through the Son, the Father created the universe (Hebrews 1:1). Without Jesus nothing was made that has been made (John 1:3). All things, Paul asserts in Colossians, were made by Christ and for Him (Colossians 1:16). Second, Jesus is our Wonderful Counselor in redemption. In God’s eternal, providential decree, the Father covenanted with the Son to redeem a people through Him. This came to pass in time and space through infinitely meritorious atoning ministry of Jesus Christ on earth. Jesus, to this day and to all eternity, serves as our Advocate before the Father (1 John 2:1)—a Counselor-at-law on our joint and several behalf before the infinitely holy and just bar of Heaven.
With all the aforementioned said, we now come to Jesus’ counseling ministry to our needs souls. We see this foremost in the teachings He uttered during His earthly ministry. What wondrously wise counsel we have from Him, if often contra-natural. Consider the Sermon on the Mount, for instance. How wise it is for Jesus to say, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and that in the face of the world’s screed, “Do unto others before they do unto you.” Consider also Jesus’ parables. The world cries that great ends must have auspicious starts, yet Jesus declares in multiple parables that His great work of redeeming a people in Himself is both inauspicious (e. g., the parable of the mustard seed, Matthew 13:31-32) and imperceptible (e. g., the parable of the leaven, Matthew 13:33). Consider also other teachings of Jesus, such as the I AM sayings of Jesus (e. g., “I am the Resurrection and the Life…,” John 11:25-26). All of these inform and guide us, and we confess with wonder, “Truly Jesus is a Wonderful Counselor.”
Jesus’ counseling ministry continues today by the operation of the Holy Spirit. Scripture refers to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9) and the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7). Among His many ministries, the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ and reveals Him to us (John 16:14). A practical way in which the Holy Spirit reveals Christ to us is by His leadership in everyday matters, both great and small, in order that we may do His will. Jesus Himself declared that it is expedient for us that He go away, in order that the Holy Spirit may come (John 16:7-15)—and the Spirit makes real Jesus, our Wonderful Counselor, in every believing life.
Let us apply what we have heard today. If Jesus be our Wonderful Counselor, then we do well to seek the Lord for His leading in all things. Over the years, as I have learned at the Lord’s feet (both in study and in experiential walk with Him), I have noticed four fairly constant witnesses for discerning the Lord’s leading at key forks in His providential path for us. First, notice the witness of Scripture. One direct application of this witness is that God never leads His children contrary to His written word—never. Any suggestion to the contrary, to quote Steve Brown, is from the pit and smells like smoke. The other witnesses now to be named will be consonant with this first fundamental witness. Second, notice the internal witness of the Holy Spirit in your life. Does there seem to be a course of action, conforming to Scripture, which seems especially desirable? That may be the leading of the Spirit; check it against the other tests here listed.
Third, notice the witness of Christ’s people. Notice the testimony of Godly folk. Solicit their counsel—in particular, solicit the prayerful counsel of folk more advanced in Christ than yourself. “Plans fail for lack of counsel,” says Solomon, “but with many counselors they succeed.” Fourth, notice the witness of providential circumstances. Do events, or occurrences, seem to point to a course of action? They certainly can, but be careful here. Many an attempt to walk in God’s will has gone awry because of a misreading of God’s providential circumstances. Utilize the other three witnesses and be much in prayer and worship before God, and you will discern the leading of the Lord with more clarity.
How delightful it is when we have and walk in the wonderful counsel of our living Lord. Therefore, on this first Sunday in Advent, rejoice in, and adore, Jesus—our Wonderful Counselor