Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A 2013 Christmas Season Greeting: The True Christmas Message is Not the Cradle, but the Cross

As the song lyric reads about Christ:  "He left
the splendor of heaven, knowing his destiny;
was the lonely hill of Golgotha; there to lay
down his life for me."
Perhaps, one of these Christmas seasons this emeritus pastor will gather the necessary materials to build a front yard Christmas manger with an added distinguishing feature. If, ever this author arrives at that point of fulfilling this desire, I’m sure that there will be some raised eyebrows.

My conception of a nativity scene, includes a tall cross right behind the manger. I know that this would be unusual and even offensive to some people because the Scripture says that the cross of Christ is an offense. 1 Corinthians 1:18

The Cross of Christ stands in direct opposition to the (politically liberal) American "political correctness" and "multicultural values' mentality. As such, the Cross of Christ becomes an offensive symbol to any nation's secular, religion.

Culture and society and many professed Christians desire the comfy secular symbols of the Christmas holiday season, without the genuine acceptance of the one distinguishing symbol and sign of Christmas – that being, the Cross – the purpose for which Christ was born. John 18:37 ; John 12:23-50 ; especially -- John 12:31-32

The Gospel of Luke chronicles the angelic announcement to simple shepherds who welcomed the news of Christ’s birth with all seriousness and joy. The Gospel of John, does not relate the birth of Christ as does the Gospel of Luke [Luke 2:1-20] but relates the [pre-incarnate] existence of the same Christ, which took on human flesh and was born among us. John 1:1-18

John’s Gospel relates in imagery language, Christ, God’s human communication to human creation and that this divine revelation and presence became very personalized in the God-man, Christ. [John 1:1-18] It says of Christ: 

“He came to His own [people and creation] and His own received Him not.” John 1:10-11

Some sinners feel that their
intelligence is insulted to believe
in the Christ of the Divine Revelation.
But, they have no problems
accepting the historical presence
of ancient historical personages
such as Socrates, Julius Caesar
and others. Their sinful pride exposes
their gross hypocrisy and disdain for
other past historical documentation.
If the arrival birth of Christ was [is] the world’s greatest event of human history – then, why is that reality (for the most part) not genuinely recognized, celebrated and truly lived?

As with all of history’s events and realities, it takes “faith” to believe what took place. Even after 200 plus years of American history, one must believe and exercise faith, for the historical reality -- the existence of the “father of our county,” General (and President), George Washington. None of us were there to witness his presence as the United States was being formed and framed.

As finite human beings we must come to realize, that there are all types of realities for which we cannot witness on the spot, as a laboratory scientist would, upon repeatable experimentations. We know that there are scientific realities, but at the same time, we accept, just as genuine, those peopled presences of the past and those events of the past, to be no less genuine as the test tube experiment. It’s called “history,” and historical documentation.

This same historical documentation is with the Christ of the historical (prophesied / fulfilled) Old Testament Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, -- those same Scriptures which many of us have come to accept as reality truths of the Christian message and the eternal import that it realized upon our lives and the souls of all of humanity.

Faith has to be personable for it to be practical

With the angelic announcement to the shepherds came the words: 

“For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord!” Luke 2:11

The Shepherds had the choice as many people today, to ignore the message of the Savior. And, people today, in huge numbers exercise their free moral will, ignoring the reality that they are sinners, in desperate need of the Savior. In fact, these same people, who often spurn God’s message of the forgiveness of their sins, are the same group who turn cynical and ridicule those souls who have accepted the Savior, Christ and the forgiveness of sins, and the new life, which He offers. It is no wonder, why they do not possess genuine joy in their lives as they haplessly grope to old age and then to their pitiful godless end.

People who either ignore, spurn, or ridicule the Triune God’s message of Christ – His birth, life, suffering, death and resurrection from the dead, often will take what is in God’s Revelation gift, to humanity, the Scriptures, and pervert that very Good News which God utilizes to deliver and save their damnable souls. It is that very same good news which the Scriptures relate, which tell us that we are sinners headed for hell in desperate need of the Savior. It is through these very same Scriptures, as found in the Hebrew Old Testament and Christian New Testament, which God the Holy Spirit utilizes to create saving faith within one's priceless soul. Romans 1:16 ; Romans 10:17 ; 2 Timothy 3:14-17 ; Acts 8:26-39 ; 1 Peter 1:23

Their fatal rejection is of the Savior once born in Bethlehem, prophesied years before His birth. [Genesis 3:15 -- Isaiah 7:14 -- Isaiah 9:6-7 and Isaiah 53:1f] That same message and the non-reception of Christ the Savior, continues by unbelieving souls. 1 Corinthians 1:23 – 1 Corinthians 2:14 ; John 1:10-11

It takes a needy life and heart to receive the Savior born, in Bethlehem. It takes a person who is willing to make an honest appraisal of his (her) life of sin, apart from a holy and just God, to finally conclude that they deserve nothing but (eternal) punishment for their sins on earth, upon the gasp of their last breath. Knowing and being familiar with the Christmas story and living a half way’s decent life, does not qualify a sinful soul to be received into God’s holy heavenly graces. It takes a personal reception of the Savior Christ to effect present forgiveness of sins and a future heaven. John 1:12-13

But how does a person arrive at “faith” to believe what God has said and then place that faith in Christ, the Savior, from sin?

Friends, I could proclaim and write until I’m blue in the face – and others multiplied, do – but the knowledge and reception of the Savior Christ, must take place, individually within a needy soul’s life. [Luke 5:29-32 – Luke 15:1:1f ; Luke 23:39-43] As the Scripture says, faith believes that Creator God is, and that “….He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

The faith that delivers and saves your needy soul is not dependent upon societal status or financial success

The quest for faith in the Savior to save from the present ravages of sin and hell are oftentimes bogged down by a needy soul’s dependence upon popularity and financial status. When all is comfortable in your life, and everything appears to be going great, how much do you think about God, your sins (of present and past) and the punishable consequences of God’s eternal court proceedings? Luke 12:16-20 – Matthew 25:31-46 ; 2 Corinthians 5:10-11

Know this, you who are presently comfortable – those of you who have no or few physical problems; no financial debt and are, for all intents and purposes, (relatively) living “high on the hog.” Know that all these blessings of body health and temporal material, ultimately come, from Creator God. Know that it is He who yearns for your soul [Ezekiel 18:23] Know that, it is He who hates your sin. [Proverbs. 6:16-19] But know that it is He, who has made every provision for your soul, [Genesis 3:15 ; John 3:16-17] as your life will soon be tapped for divine judgment. Matthew 25:31-46 ; 2 Corinthians 5:10-11

Where your true life can be found

As this year closes, find your life’s true meaning and purpose in the baby born in Bethlehem. But don’t stop there at the infant manger-baby-Jesus scene, and jam your emotional and sentimental gears. Realize for a historical fact, the person of Christ’s sinless life and death on your behalf and his resurrection from the dead (which certifies his name, character and God-head). Know that for a fact, this same Christ who stood in temporal judgment by Pontius Pilate’s court, [John 18:33-38] will be the one, single reality, who will pass sentence on your future destiny. John 18:37 -- Matthew 25:31-46 ; 2 Corinthians 5:10-11

When you travel by a manger scene, think what that infant God / Man, Christ, grew to be. Place in your mind, that cross behind the manger displays and begin to think about the true meaning of Christmas. And then, (by God's Grace) as the timeless hymn lyric states, you will have begun your journey to the Savior Christ, as did the Shepherds of old:

How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n; So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heav’n; No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin; Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

O holy child [Christ] of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray; Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell: Oh, come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Immanuel!


Other Christmas messages:

Above Message and Related Scriptures [below] -- Intended to be utilized in a simple worship format:

Also: For a couple of other (more formal) worship formats:
The Order of Morning Service
The Order of Matins

Related Scriptures To the Above Message

Isaiah 7:14 -- Isaiah 53:1f -- Isaiah 9:6-7 – Micah 5:2 – Prophecies of Christ, hundreds of years before His birth

Luke 2:1-20 – the birth of Christ

John 1:1-14 – The pre-incarnate Christ and the “Word” made flesh

1 Timothy 1:15 and 2 Corinthians 5:15 – Christ’s purpose – to rescue sinners

John 18:37 - Christ before Pontius Pilate. Christ cam to bear witness to the Truth!


Of Whom Does the Prophet Speak" -- by Victor Buksbazen -- Isaiah 53:1-12 -- an in-depth view of and the prophecy of Christ, hundred of years before his birth. Isaiah 53:1-12 underscores the truthfulness of Divine Revelation as exemplified in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.

Pastor (emeritus) Nathan Bickel

Please also note:

The "Words in Season" topical messages and related worship format are not intended to discourage or replace the Christian worship and assembly of Christians at their particular places of church worship. As this website's author, it is my prayer and hope, that many souls will find the topical messages, related worship format and other material, a useful and valuable Christian resource.

2 -- How the saving (believing) process of the Christian Faith takes place 

3 -- What are the tell-tale signs that a person has been “Saved” [is a Christian

Note: The above message was previously posted online by Nathan Bickel