Monday, December 24, 2012

The Incarnation: HOPE of Christmas

Beloved brothers and sisters,

If red-nosed reindeer, pumpkin pie, jingling bells, snowmen, hot chocolate, wonderful lives, white Christmases, Santa coming to town, and "hippopotamusases" are what Christmas is about, I submit to you that we as Christians are better off not celebrating it at all. 

Further, if the HOPE, JOY, and PEACE of Christmas is being with "those you love", family and friends, then we have utterly lost Christmas altogether.

I know, I know, call me scrooge, but bear with me.

While we should certainly and rightly enjoy and be thankful for the blessings of family and provisions, if THIS is what Christmas is about, then the "hope, joy, peace and love" of Christmas applies to a very small audience. 

Tell someone to "have a merry Christmas" on this basis. 

Go ahead and say that "Christmas is wonderful because of the memories and time spent with all those you love" to the couple that has tried unsuccessfully for years to have children; to the widowed woman whose husband has been dead for years. Tell it to the parents of the recent school-shooting victims, who will never again see their beloved children. Tell it to the foreign missionary who is miles away from anyone that they know and love, or to our dear brothers and sisters around the world who spend this Christmas in chains, enduring cruel torture and separation.  Tell it to the homeless man who doesn't even have daily food.

All these things people celebrate as "Christmas" offer NO hope to the hurting, dying, HOPELESS world at large. We are, in effect, saying, "Merry Christmas! Well, to all the middle and upper-class Americans in the world, that is!"

The glorious truth is this, that the message and hope of Christmas is more awesome and applicable than any of these things. The TRUE hope of Christmas is not limited by cultural, ethnic, social, economic, or situational differences. The true hope of Christmas is relevant and reaching to ALL people of ALL time!

There is one thing all people have in common, and it is this,  
ALL HAVE SINNED. In Adam came sin - we ALL sinned -  in Adam, we ALL died. 

    as it is written:
    “None is righteous, no, not one;
        no one understands;
        no one seeks for God.
    All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
        no one does good,
        not even one.”
(Romans 3:10-12 ESV)
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—
(Romans 5:12 ESV)

All men have this in common, that we all are naturally dead in sin, enemies of God, guilty of lawlessness before a Holy, Just God. Further, we have no ability in ourselves to change this! Essentially, we all share in a common HOPELESSNESS.

We are all GUILTY SINNERS by nature and by act, violators of God's moral law, expressed in the Ten Commandments. God is a JUST JUDGE who by no means will clear the guilty. (Exodus 34:7, Numbers 14:18) He is GOOD to punish the evil, and yet, GRACIOUS beyond our comprehension, for in LOVE, He sovereignly devised a plan to REDEEM sinful men to Himself before the ages began.
    For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 ESV)
 ...without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
(Hebrews 9:22 ESV)
The guilty blood of all of guilty man could never right us with God, and here we get to Christmas!

God the Father put forward JESUS CHRIST, the SECOND ADAM (fully God - fully man) as a propitiation (the sacrifice which turns away the wrath of God) for sinners! (Romans 3:23-25)

How can this be? 
God who is immortal and invisible cannot die and cannot bleed! 

How can this be? 
The righteousness of God who is entirely different in being and essence than man cannot represent us who are human!

Here is the glory of Christmas, that the IMMORTAL, INVISIBLE GOD became a PHYSICAL, MORTAL MAN, named JESUS CHRIST. Born of Mary as a humble baby. BORN TO BLEED AND DIE IN OUR PLACE.

He lived a perfect life AS A MAN and then bore the wrath of God and died on the cross for sinners AS A MAN.  

This was proved when he ROSE from the dead 3 days later! 


     the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
(Romans 3:22-26 ESV)
     because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
(Romans 10:9-13 ESV)
     Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14:6 ESV)
    Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,
(Acts 3:19 ESV)
This, dear friends, is the gospel. This, dear friends, is CHRISTMAS. 

     For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
(1 Corinthians 15:21-22 ESV)

Love, celebrate, sing of, and HOPE in  
the INCARNATION - God becoming man -
SALVATION for those who believe! Give THIS hope to all men this Christmas, preach the gospel at all times!

Grace in Christ,