In the midst of 21st century America’s mostly secular, sentimental and commercial celebration of Christmas, faithful Christians continue to labor diligently to rightly exalt Jesus Christ as the central focus. However, even many professing Christians seem to only sentimentally zero in on Christ as “the Babe born at Bethlehem” and not on why. Truly, the birth of Jesus Christ means nothing without the why and I am so glad in this contentious age, God Himself supplied the answer to that question so arrogant and proud men would not have this as a matter of debate with all else. God has also made His answer to why Christ was born so simple and easy to receive a child can understand it!
In the only two birth narratives in the New Testament, Matthew and Luke record angelically made statements that announce from God the name, title and description of the central mission His Son born to the virgin, Mary, would have. Declaring His name and title (Christ) in his narrative, Matthew relays how Mary’s husband by engagement, Joseph, was told by an angel in a dream to name Her soon to be born Son, ‘“Jesus’” which those conversant in the Hebrew language translate literally in shortened form as “Savior.” Joseph obediently did this at His birth. Then the angel tells Joseph why the name, Jesus: ‘“for He will save His people from their sins,’” (Matthew 1:18-25, NKJV).
In Luke’s account too, an angel announces God’s good news for all humanity this time to shepherds in a field. They are told, ‘“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,’” (Luke 2:11, NKJV). As is consistent with God and man from the beginning, names given express something about the function and mission of a person, place or thing. Jesus, Savior is so because His central mission was to save His people (those that would look to Him starting from among the lowliest of Jews and the Gentiles) from their sins. He is titled “Christ” which means “Anointed One” because He is exclusively chosen by God to His work (Isaiah 49:1-7, 61:1-3).
Saving willing mankind from our sins was the first priority mission of the Lord Jesus Christ when He was born into this world over 2,000 years ago. And while He was no doubt a cute, baby Boy sentimentally speaking, His mission is what should occupy the heart of every person professing to be His follower at Christmas. Indeed, He grew up to accomplish His mission on a Roman cross by dying thereon for the sins of all mankind--the innocent One in the place of the guilty all--to bring salvation to the world (Isaiah 53:1-9)! This is the deepest source of the Father and His Son’s joy and ours too who are saved by faith in Jesus Christ as the angel foretold (Isaiah 53:10-12; Luke 2:10)!
The tragic shame of these latter days is how lightly sin is taken by many willfully sinning and falling away from Jesus and the true Gospel that still profess to believe on and love Him (John 14:21-24; 1 Corinthians 16:22; Galatians 1:1-10). Truly, all disobedience and whatever offends the holy, just and righteous God is sin as it is plainly written in His Word (Genesis 2:16-17, 3:6-11, 17-19; Exodus 19:10-20:17; Romans 14:23b; 1 John 1:1-6). That same Word declares that God does not change--what was sin in His sight yesterday, is today and will be so forever (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8)! Yet, many professing Christian Americans have pet sins they willfully practice and refuse to relinquish in sincere confession and repentance so that God might forgive them (1 John 1:7-2:6).
Among the willful and continuously practiced pet sins many professing Christian Americans cling to falsely believing God in grace is okay with because He has not yet brought on them the judgment they deserve (Romans 6:1-2) is racism which I wrote about in the December 11, 2016 blog. Another major pet sin is pride that is routine among pastors and other church leaders as if Scripture gives no serious warning about it (Proverbs 16:18-19). Others include unforgiveness with petty vindictiveness and retaliation, idolatry in all covetousness of money, things and selfish ambitions, sexual immorality and heresies that are big among the religious educated elite and pastors who simply invent corrupt theologies at will to justify such sins as oppressing and marginalizing men.
Cue the anger here since I must think I am perfect. Nope, just confessed up and forgiven as well as yielded to the Spirit’s renewing work daily in fear of God (Romans 12:1-2)! No professed Christian who will please God clings to sin as a pet since Christ our Savior died to save us from sin completely--its penalty, power, pollution and ultimately, its presence (Romans 6:3-23)! This is why God consistently, sternly warns the righteous made so through faith in the Old and New Testaments who may become deceived of demons and hardened by sin, unless they do repent from their sins carried out in unbelief, they will die in them and be judged by their deeds (Ezekiel 33:12-20; Romans 2:1-11; 1 Timothy 4:1-5; Hebrews 3, 6:1-8, 10:26-39). God will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7-8)!
This Christmas, therefore, I urge every guilty professing Christian reading this to repent now, so that in God’s gracious forgiveness made possible through Jesus Christ, you may have the real joy of the season along with salvation’s many blessings into the New Year and beyond (Matthew 5:1-12)! The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, “Who is on the Lord's side?”
(So that I too may give full attention to celebrating Christ’s coming as Savior to save us from our sins at Christmas and enjoy my family into the New Year, the Lord has granted that this should be my final blog for 2016. The Lord saying the same, my next new blog will appear on January 8, 2017.)
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