It is getting closer and closer to Christmas Day and the excitement and anxiety are on the rise. Christmas time is one of the best times of the year for a lot of different reasons, with one of the main for me being spending time with family! I love to spend time with my family, and this is also more special this year because this is my last year of spending Christmas as a single. By this time next year, I will be married and I could not be more excited for it, though some in my family are excited through tears, but I guess that is normal as well. I am looking forward to being able to spend Christmas with my wife-to-be, but for the moment I will enjoy this year.
However, Christmas is special, not because of family, or gifts, or food but because of Christ coming to dwell among His people. The more we focus on the commercialization of this holiday and the less we focus on Christ, the more we show that we don’t actually understand what took place 2,000 years ago. The birth of Christ was the starting point for a plan that was decided before the earth was even formed, that the Son of God would come, live a sinless life, die a gruesome death on the cross, and resurrect three days later so that sinful humans might be brought back to God. It was a cosmic rescue mission that we might be restored to the relationship we were meant to have from the beginning. May we spend more time this Christmas season thinking on Christ and sharing this love with those around us. We love to give gifts, and great gifts at that, why not give the greatest gift of all, the gospel of Jesus Christ to someone that desperately needs it (whether they know it or not).
Not Only a Baby Born, But God Dwelling
One of the most glorious passages in the Bible, one that will take you high on the mountain when you stop to think on it, as well as one of the most heartbreaking, is the prologue found in John 1:1-18. I encourage you to take the time to read through it, after all it is only 18 verses and should take maybe five minutes to read, however for the sake of space I will not list the entire passage, but just hit on a few key ideas. The first aspect that is mind-blowing, but also sets up the rest of the passage, is the description of the Word that John gives. The Word was in the beginning. This beginning is not once the creation has already taken place and He shows up. No, from eternity past, the Word was there, and He was there with God, and He was God. This is not the easiest thing for us to understand, which is good because if we could understand everything about our God then He wouldn’t be much of a God. The Word was with God and yet is God. The Word is fully God and is yet distinct from God. There are not two Gods, but rather One, and within this One distinction can be made (see what I mean by not easy?).
This Word, that is with God and is God, is said to then be the One who creates everything. All things are made through Him, and nothing that exists was made apart from Him. Every tree in the forest and animal that lives in them, every drop of water and creature that calls it home, every human being as well as the very breath in his lungs, was made by the Word. In this Word was life and the light of men. The two things that man needs most because they are what he most lacks are found in Him. Man will die, but in the Word there is life. Man lives in darkness because of sin, and the Word brings light. In the same way that a flashlight in a dark room will not be overwhelmed, so also the light of the Word will not be overcome by the darkness that is in the world.
This amazing Word comes down to the world that He has made and what type of response should we expect? Fanfare and celebrations? You would think so. Feasts given in His honor and all people adoring Him, if for no other reason than for their existence? I would imagine. But this is not what happens at all. In heartbreaking fashion, the world does not notice Him. They do not know Him at all. The very One who created all was not given a second look.
Well, you may say, what about the people of the Old Testament? Maybe the people who God protected and lead for so many years will welcome their rightful King? Again, this is the correct response, but is simply not what happens. No, they did not receive their King, but openly rejected Him. They wanted a conquering hero that will rescue them from the clutches of the Roman empire, but they were given a humble servant who would conquer a far greater enemy, sin itself. They wanted a warrior, but received a sacrifice. They were looking for the lion, but at first received the Lamb who would be slain. It is truly heartbreaking to think about coming home and no one even bothering to notice.
However, praise the Lord that this was not everyone, because God has for Himself a people that did and even today still will believe. Verses 12-13 says that those who did receive Him, those who believe in Christ and did not reject Him like the others, He gave the right to become children of God. Think about that. We, as sinful human beings that are in open rebellion against the God of the universe, by believing in Christ can become Children of God. We deserve nothing except condemnation for our actions. We deserve eternal death in hell for our sin. And yet, we can become children of God, adopted into the family of the King. We can even share in the inheritance of the Son of God, Jesus Himself. But why? How is that fair? It’s not fair, we don’t want fairness, but God gives grace and mercy. Too often we ask a very wrong question of ‘why doesn’t God save everyone?’ when in reality the question is why should He save anyone?
The Word became flesh so that we might have life. Jesus Christ was born so that we might be born-again. In Him was life and the life was the light of men. The darkness cannot overcome this light. Those who did receive it were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13). God alone saves and gives to men light. We cannot earn our own adoption into His family, but He freely gives it. Let me ask you as we get closer to Christmas, which person are you? Do you reject Him, or do you believe in Him? Now, don’t get me wrong here, simply because you go to church or pray or anything else does not mean that you truly believe. There are plenty of moral people who fill church pews that reject Him. They live as if He is only concerned on Sunday mornings, or even just on Christmas, and does not care about the rest of our week. Jesus didn’t come for you to mentally believe and not have your life changed, no He came that you may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10), which will only be found in a life that is submitted to Him. Do you believe in Him? If the answer is no, then I beg you to consider Him this Christmas season. Would you believe in Him and begin to follow Him, not just for this season, but for all of eternity. Joy in the full will be found nowhere else, but in Him, and who wouldn’t want that? Joy in the midst of difficulties, and life eternal in the presences of our Savior, that is the offer of the gospel. We don’t follow Him to have a good life now, or to get money, or health, but because He is far better than all of them. What would be a greater gift on Christmas than life in Christ, after all, He is the reason for the season (and yes I know that that was cliché)?
The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield
I am in serious debt to Steven Lawson for his long line of godly men profiles, and if he were to ever read this post then let me say a big thank you! This profiles are short introductions of people from church history and give a description of one aspect of their lives. In this case, this particular volume is on George Whitefield, the 18th century evangelist that God used to reach thousands of people in his lifetime. He traveled throughout England and the American Colonies, preaching to thousands. It is estimated that in the Colonies four out of every five individuals would have heard Whitefield speak. This book, like all the others I have read in this series, fuels in me a fire for God that few other things can. Reading of this man’s zeal for Christ and his longing to see others saved hopefully drives me to do the same. I highly recommend this book and the series as a whole. They are fantastic introductions to key figures throughout church history. Again, they are not long and yet being very engaging throughout.