It was decided before the foundations of the earth were laid and before man was ever created. The Godhead knew that the creature they would create would fall and need a redeemer. What kind of love causes a Creator to create a creature that the Creator knows will fall and He, Himself, will have to die to redeem the creature? This could only be conceived in the mind of a loving, compassionate Creator. A Creator who was willing to give up His position in Heaven and become as one of his creatures. From a throne to a manger. From a manger to a cruel death on a cross. From a cross to a grave. From a grave to the throne room of the Creator. It is the birth of that Creator that we celebrate in this season. Truly, He, and He alone is worthy of all praise, blessing, honor, and glory. Fill each day with hymns, psalms, and shouts of praise and give Him glory. Let the whole world know that God alone is worthy and eternal.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
What an amazing God and what amazing grace! He made a creature that He knew He would have to die to redeem from sin. He gave up all of His glory and chose to live among such lowly, filthy creatures. Creatures consumed by sin and fleshly lusts. He suffered persecution, bore our sins in His sinless body and endured beatings so that by His stripes we could be healed. He could have stopped there but He didn’t. He died a shameful death on a cross for our sins, was resurrected and lives in heaven interceding for us there at the right hand of God. He could have stopped there but He didn’t. He came back as a Spirit to abide inside of us so that we who chose to accept Him as our Savior would never be alone.
27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. — Col. 1:27 NLT
There is only one Creator who would create a creature knowing that it would require His death to redeem that creation. What kind of Creator has that much love for His creation? God, and God alone, because He alone is complete, pure love. God, as the man Jesus did not die for some bogus religion of the world. He died to renew the relationship that He had with man in the Garden of Eden. We call that relationship, Christianity. There is no comparison of Christianity to any religion in the world. Christianity is eternal because it is based on Jesus Christ, who died and was resurrected for our sins. He knew from before the foundations of the earth that He would have to do that. Sin took away that relationship and introduced all kinds of false hopes, which the world calls “religions”. All those religions are named after and founded on the teachings of dead men. But, praise God, Christianity is named after and based on the teachings of a LIVING GOD and SAVIOR! One who longs to talk to You and show You His love in the tiniest details of Your Life.
If, up until now, you have only experienced “religion”, it is time for you to get into a “relationship” with the One and Only Living God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is standing at your heart’s door and knocking. Open up to the most beautiful and meaningful relationship you will ever know.
10 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.—Galatians 1:10-14 (NASB)
Paul tells us that if pleasing others, whether they be family, friends, neighbors or society at large, is more important than pleasing God, then we are not bond servants of Jesus Christ. Jesus is not happy with being number one in a race with some idols of our making.. He wants to be the one and only one in contention for our affections. This is the Gospel that was revealed to Paul by God. When we really get hold of this message, we understand that repentance is more than turning from an old way of life, it is turning to a new way of living. Old things have passed away and all things have become new. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.—2 Cor. 5:17 (NASB)
No matter how intelligent we are or what strata of society we come from, we must see ourselves and our righteousness as filthy rags before God. Nothing we have can save us and no one else can repent for us, we have to do it for ourselves.
22 The time came for the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the Temple in Solomon’s Porch. 24 The Jews gathered around him and said, “How long will you make us wonder about you? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered, “I told you already, but you did not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name show who I am. 26 But you don’t believe, because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never die, and no one can steal them out of my hand. 29 My Father gave my sheep to me. He is greater than all, and no person can steal my sheep out of my Father’s hand.—John 10:22-29 (NCV)
What a tremendous, magnificent, awesome promise!!! They will never die! And that promise is still in effect today. These old bodies that we wear around will one day give out, but we, our soul, will never die! Once we have accepted Jesus and the Holy Spirit abides in us, we are assured that we will never die. Guaranteed!! 13 So it is with you. When you heard the true teaching—the Good News about your salvation—you believed in Christ. And in Christ, God put his special mark of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit that he had promised. 14 That Holy Spirit is the guarantee that we will receive what God promised for his people until God gives full freedom to those who are his—to bring praise to God’s glory—Ephesians 1:13, 14 (NCV)
No person or no thing can take us out of the hands of Jesus because God is greater than all and no one can defeat Him or His purpose. We will have new bodies and live forever with Christ Jesus, our Savior and Lord. 16 From this time on we do not think of anyone as the world does. In the past we thought of Christ as the world thinks, but we no longer think of him in that way. 17 If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new! 18 All this is from God. Through Christ, God made peace between us and himself, and God gave us the work of telling everyone about the peace we can have with him.—1 Cor. 5:16-18 (NCV)
1 There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. 2 After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.” 3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” 4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” 5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. 7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”—John 3:1-8 (NLT)
Nicodemus was a leader and a Pharisee. He came to Jesus at night because he probably did not want the other Jewish leaders to know about the visit. Nicodemus readily admits that he believes that Jesus has been sent from God. He wants to know more about this man that is proclaiming that the kingdom of God is near. Jesus immediately tells Nicodemus that unless you are born again, you will never see the kingdom of God. What an amazing concept! How can a human be born again? Jesus explains that He is not talking about physical rebirth, but spiritual. It is not a physical change, but a change of the desires of the heart. How does this happen? From a human standpoint, we are unable to explain what happens inside. But just as the wind comes and goes without our understanding, so the Holy Spirit works inside us to renew us and rebirth us as children of God. We may not know how, but the work that He does in our hearts leaves no doubt in our minds that we are being made into new creatures. At the very moment that we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, the new creation is born with all the rights that come with being a citizen of heaven. God will spend a lifetime completing the work that He has started in us, but finish it, He will. 1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,—Hebrews 12:1-2a (NKJV)
17 But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted. 18 They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. 19 These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them. 20 But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, 21 and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love. 22 And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. 23 Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.—Jude 17-23 (NLT)
We live in the times Jude is describing in these verses. Everyday, we read more and more articles and hear more comments about people who either disrespect Christianity or refuse to believe in God. They are becoming much more militant in their actions each day, demanding more and more rights but at the same time wanting to limit the rights of others. They use all manner of deception and false claims that others are mistreating them. We must stand firm in our beliefs and refuse to compromise the truth that is laid out in the Scriptures. God has not changed His mind about what He knows to be sin. After all, does the Creator not know what actions will harm the creatures He so lovingly created? Which of us can say to the Creator, “hey, you made a mistake”? After all God is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient. We must encourage new believers to stand firm and grow in the faith. We do this with love and mercy, just as God has shown love and mercy to us. We “snatch others from the flames of judgment” by witnessing to them about Jesus. We must do this also with great love and mercy, not judging them for their sins, but showing them a different way of life. We must love the sinner and hate the sin just as God does. As we do this, we must be sure not to allow the sins to contaminate our lives.
****Bob Dylan circa 1964