Thursday, December 16, 2010 – There is No Christ in Christmas
Many religious people are adamant about “putting Christ back in Christmas” and insist that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” With these slogans, they hope to remind people that Christmas is a “Christian” holiday, and that without Christ, there would be no Christmas in the first place.
There are also those who, while not conforming to Christmas as a “Celebration of Christ’s Birth,” feel we should take advantage of the “Reason for the Season” thought process to teach those about Christ.
I agree that this can be a very effective time of the year to teach The Truth about Christianity because minds tend to turn to the subject of Jesus.It is never wrong to think of His Birth, for it is the birth of our Savior.There is nothing wrong, in teaching about Christ, with starting at His Birth because it is the miraculous fulfillment of prophecy regarding Our Savior.However, do not forget to point out all the prophecy, regarding Christ, found in the Old Testament which was fulfilled in the New Testament.
However, we need to be sure that, as we teach, those being taught understand the need for authority in what we do.My brother, Philip, correctly reasoned regarding equating Christ’s birth with Christmas by stating:
“If one grants some of these contentions, how does he then assert the need for Biblical authority on such matters as the unscriptural nature of mechanical instrumental religious music? Rather than ‘It seems to me’ should we not have a ‘thus saith the Lord’ for those matters we practice in the name of religion? Mere pragmatism has been used to countenance some fairly unsavory practices. Had the Lord wished His ‘birthday’ to be given a ‘mass’ He would have ordained it just as He did the memory of His death in the Lord’s supper. That Jehovah ordained various feasts and festivals in the Mosaic period and only specified the Lord’s supper in the new covenant ‘seems to me’ to teach us a lesson about letting the Lord designate what He wants to happen in our worship and practice. To ‘fill in the blanks’ where the Lord was silent smacks of a presumptuousness that the Lord abhors.”
There is not the slightest evidence that there is any authorization for creating a sacred celebration of the birth of Christ. There is no instruction within the New Testament to ceremonially honor the Savior’s birth, and there is no indication that the Christians of the apostolic age did so.
His birth was the miraculous fulfillment of prophecy, but if he had not lived a sinless life, been completely obedient to The Father (to the point of death), and arose from the dead, His birth would not mean much.
Our celebration of our remembrance of Christ has been designated for us by Jesus himself.
Luke 22:17-20 – Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”
God's Truth, as he provides it to us, is more than sufficient to convict the heart without us making up ceremonies or conforming to worldly "celebrations" to try and find an "entry point" to teach others.
For those who think that Christians should never celebrate Christmas, I believe you are wrong. Christians may celebrate the “Christmas” season in a non-religious way, with family get-togethers, the exchanging of gifts, the decoration of homes, etc. The holiday season is a long-standing tradition in this country, and for millions of people, the customary celebration exists without the cluttering of religious symbolism.
Several years ago, I adapted a sermon by Roy Deaver which, I believe, provides us a beautiful focus when we “Remember Christ.”
I would like to share it with you as part of this weeks thoughts.
1.Text – Luke 22:7-20
2.God has always foresaw the need for memorial services to remind his people 2.1.Rainbow – Noah and the flood 2.1.1.Gen. 9:8-17 2.2.Passover – Moses and the Israelites 2.2.1.Exodus 12:12-14; 27-30 - READ 2.3.The Lord’s Supper – Christ 2.3.1.Luke 22:7-20 – READ
3.In an upper room more than nineteen hundred years ago, the Lord’s Supper was instituted in a quiet way. 3.1.The Lord’s Supper was instituted at the Jewish Passover. 3.2.Christ did not authorize costly monuments which only the rich could afford to erect to His memory, but these simple elements which may be had by all disciples throughout the world. 3.3.Following the observance of the Passover the Lord instituted the Lords Supper. The record says he used the bread, the bread which had been employed in that Passover feast – he used the bread to represent His body. He used the fruit of the vine to represent His blood. And He stated plainly that this Supper would be observed by His disciples in His kingdom. 3.4.Recall events of night Christ is taken
4.This is the first day of the week. 4.1.And in commemoration of the great events of Calvary we come together upon the ‘first day of every week’, as was the case with the first disciples to observe the Supper of our Lord. 4.2.This is not the only time that we think about the Lord’s Supper, but it is the only time we are authorized to observe the Lord’s Supper-upon the first day of the week. 4.2.1.The record says in Acts 20, verse 7, that the disciples came together to break bread. That isn’t all they did, but they came together to break bread. 4.2.2.That passage, Acts 20:7, together with 1 Cor. 16:2 make it crystal clear that the early church met together upon the first day of every week, and this to observe the Supper of our Lord. 4.2.3.And so in striving to be a true New Testament church, upon the first day of every week we come together to engage in worship and our worship at that time specifically involves observance of the Supper of our Lord. 4.2.4.And so, the table upon which the Supper is spread has written across it, the front of it there, “This Do in Remembrance of Me.”
5.Sometimes we have certain difficulties actually fastening our minds upon those things involving the Lord’s Supper. 5.1.There are certain distractions, and all of us ought to be exceeding careful that we are not a part of those distractions. 5.2.Whenever you and I come together upon an occasion like this, and when we sing together these beautiful songs about the cross of Calvary as we have this morning; when we in our minds survey the scenes of Calvary-what an experience it is. I wish somehow we could have before us the scenes of Calvary. 5.3.In your imagination go with me just outside Jerusalem to that ugly place- to a little hill that is shaped somewhat like a skull.
6.ONE LORD 6.1.Concentrate on the number one. We behold one Lord. That’s all there will ever be. 6.2.The word “Lord” involves ownership. It is a word frequently used in scripture to emphasize our relationship to Him and His relationship to us. The Bible teaches that Christians belong to Him. 6.3.If we belong to Him, He is our Master, we are His servants. He is our Lord; He is our possessor; the one whom we honor; the one whom we adore; the one whom we respect: the one whom we obey. 6.4.Our words “Master” and “servant” are inherently related to the idea of the one Lord. 6.5.He is the Master, the ruler in our lives. 6.5.1.And this is the very heart of Romans, chapter 6 – wherein Paul emphasizes that when a person is baptized into the Christ that he takes sin off the throne in his life and puts the Christ on the throne in his life. 6.5.2.I am not in charge of my life if I’m to be pleasing to God. 6.5.3.When I was baptized into Christ, I gave Christ my life completely. 22.214.171.124.The Christ has been put on the throne in his life. And He is the controlling factor. And Satan is not in control. And money is not in control.And human passions are not in control.And worldly pleasures are not in control. 126.96.36.199.He is the Lord of our life. 188.8.131.52.1.John 14:6 - I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me 184.108.40.206.1.1.He didn’t say I’m one way among many ways, and you can select any one you want to. 220.127.116.11.1.2.He didn’t say I’m a truth among many truths, and you can believe what you want to. 18.104.22.168.1.3.He didn’t say I am a life among many lives, and you can follow the course you desire to pursue. 22.214.171.124.1.4.He said I am the way, and the truth and the life. 126.96.36.199.1.5.The world says that’s mighty exclusive, and the world is right on that point. It’s tremendously exclusive, but it’s right. 188.8.131.52.1.6.The world says that’s mighty narrow minded, and it is, But it’s right, and at the same time it’s broad enough to include anybody and everybody who wants to stand right before God. 184.108.40.206.2.There is the one Lord and we recall that the one Lord has the one body, which is His church, His kingdom. He’s the head of the body – the church. 220.127.116.11.3.There is the one body, Eph. 4:4. 18.104.22.168.4.We, as Christians, subject to that Lord, are members of the one body, Eph. 5:30. And as members of that body we’re obligated and we’re privileged to function for the benefit of the whole body, Eph. 4:16.
7.Two Thieves 7.1.There are two thieves, one on either side of Him. 7.1.1.These were robbers, ordinary criminals. 7.1.2.They were placed, one on His right hand and one on His left hand, exactly as Isa. 53:12 had said would come to pass. More than 760 years before the scenes of Calvary took place God had emphasized that in His death, and as is recorded for us in Luke 22, verse 37, that He would be numbered with the thieves, the robbers, the transgressors. 22.214.171.124.These robbers, one on the right hand, one on the left hand-these were men who had violated the law of God. 126.96.36.199.These were men who had violated the law of the land. 188.8.131.52.These were people who had no respect whatsoever for the rights of others. 184.108.40.206.These were men who followed the philosophy that many follow in our day -Do whatever you’re big enough to do, or whatever you can get by with. 220.127.116.11.They followed the philosophy that might makes right. 18.104.22.168.They followed the philosophy that “what is yours is mine, and I will take it if I can.” 22.214.171.124.They were men who were dying for their own sins. 126.96.36.199.They were suffering the just punishment of their transgressions of law. 7.1.3.What about the one in the center there? 188.8.131.52.Note how different the Lord’s case was. 184.108.40.206.Here’s one who is dying, but one who loved and respected the law of God; one who loved and respected the Bible teaching. 220.127.116.11.He came to fulfill the law and the prophets and He lived in harmony with that Mosaic law. 18.104.22.168.He respected that law. 22.214.171.124.He respected the law of the land. He respected the rights of others. 126.96.36.199.He upheld the rights of others. 7.2.Whereas these thieves had gone about robbing and stealing and taking from the other fellow, the Lord went about doing good. 7.3.Now here is one who is not dying for His own sins but who is dying for the sins of others. And when we survey the scenes of Calvary we behold one Lord but two thieves.
8.Three Crosses 8.1.There are three crosses there. 8.1.1.We identify one of the crosses as being the cross of rebellion. 188.8.131.52.Luke 23:39 - Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us. 184.108.40.206.Here’s the cross of rebellion. 220.127.116.11.1.The occupant of this cross was in rebellion against God. 18.104.22.168.2.He’s in rebellion against the law of the land. 22.214.171.124.3.He’s in rebellion against the Christ Himself. Even in the hour of death, mind you, this man, this thief, was still venting forth his hatred in the attitude and in the speech recorded here. 126.96.36.199.4.Even on the cross there is no semblance of repentance whatsoever. And so one of these crosses has to be designated as being a cross of rebellion. 188.8.131.52.But we go across to the other cross.And this one we call the cross of repentance. 184.108.40.206.1.The record says back in Matt. 27:44 and also in Mark 15:32 that at first both of these thieves cast upon Him the same reproach. Both of them cast upon Him the same reproach. But now then, the clear evidence is that only one of them continued in that rebellious attitude. 220.127.116.11.2.Luke 23:40-43 – But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise. 18.104.22.168.3.He evidences a fear of God, a respect for God.He acknowledges the justice of his own punishment. He stresses the very innocence of the Lord Himself, and recognizes his own guilt and the guilt of the other, and the justness of their punishment 8.1.2.But right in the middle is the third cross, and it is called the cross of redemption.Here is the cross of redemption. 22.214.171.124.Our Lord was dying that men might be saved. 126.96.36.199.Without the shedding of His blood there could be no forgiveness of sins. 188.8.131.52.Peter says in 1 Peter 1:18, 19, “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. . . .” And when we survey the scenes of Calvary then we see one Lord and two thieves and three crosses.
9.Four Parts of His Garments 9.1.But while we ponder the scenes of Calvary we also see FOUR PARTS OF HIS GARMENTS. 9.1.1.There are four parts to His garments. 9.1.2.In John 19, verses 23 and 24, the record says, “The soldiers therefore when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also the coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore one to another, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled which saith, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.” 9.1.3.The soldiers gambled that they might have these garments.Four soldiers, four parts. 184.108.40.206.John points out that there were four soldiers involved in this matter, and each soldier wanted a part of the Lord’s garments. 220.127.116.11.These soldiers recognized there was something real serious going on here. 18.104.22.168.They recognized that there was something important here. They recognized there was something history-making right here.They wanted something to remember it by. 22.214.171.124.They recognized they were involved in something that was tremendously important and so in fulfillment of God’s prophecy back in the 22nd Psalm the soldiers cast lots for the Lord’s garments. 126.96.36.199.And we should be mighty grateful that God has provided for us something to remember this event by: the bread which represents His body, and the fruit of the vine which represents His blood – the Supper to be observed upon the first day of the week, which reminds us of His sacrifice for us.
10.Five Wounds 10.1.But when we turn back to the scenes of Calvary we recognize there are FIVE WOUNDS. 10.1.1.The Bible talks about five specific wounds of the one who hangs on that central cross. 10.1.2.The record says the Lord was led out to Golgatha, the place of the crucifixion. 10.1.2.1.Likely it is the case that he was nailed to that cross while it was still lying flat on the ground. The nails were driven through His hands and through His feet, and this would cause four wounds. 10.1.2.2.Then, according to custom, He would be raised, and the old rugged cross bearing his body would be dropped deliberately into the hole prepared to receive its base. 10.1.2.2.1.And no human mind can begin to imagine the suffering of his body and of His mind when that cross was dropped into that hole. 10.1.2.2.2.But, in view of the approaching Sabbath day the Lord’s body would have to be taken down from the cross, and this before sunset. 10.1.2.2.3.To hasten death the Roman soldiers would approach a victim of this kind and would break the victim’s legs. 10.1.2.2.4.When they came to the Lord’s body, they didn’t break His legs. They broke the legs of the thieves on either side, but they didn’t break the Lord’s legs. 10.1.2.2.5.They didn’t know this, but you and I know that the prophets had said that His bones would not be broken -His body was broken, but not His bones. And the Roman soldier, in view of the fact that he didn’t have to break the Lord’s legs, reached up with that long spear and stuck it in the Lord’s side (John 19:34), and the record says “forthwith came there out blood and water.” 10.2.But if there are two wounds in the hands and two wounds in the feet and now then the huge gaping wound id the side- that’s five wounds.Five wounds as we survey the scenes of Calvary.
11.Six Hours 11.1.And as we ponder the scenes of Calvary we recall there were six hours of agony.Six hours of suffering. 11.2.The Lord was alive on that cross suffering the agonies of torment for six hours. 11.3.He was crucified at 9:00 o’clock in the morning, according to Mark 15:25. 11.4.He died at 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon, Mark 15:34, and that’s the six hours upon the cross. 11.5.There was darkness over the whole land from 12:00 o’clock to 3:00 o’clock. 11.6.Thus the suffering upon the cross lasted for six horrible, horrible, indescribable hours.
12.Seven Sayings of Christ on the Cross 12.1.Promise of Forgiveness 12.1.1."Father, forgive them FOR THEY KNOW NOT what they do." 12.2.Promise of Salvation 12.2.1.Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise." 12.3.Moment of Affection 12.3.1."Woman, Behold thy son. Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother!" 12.4.Moment of Anguish 12.4.1."Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" 12.5.Word of Suffering 12.5.1."I Thirst!" 12.6.Word of Victory 12.6.1."It is Finished!" 12.7.Word of Contentment 12.7.1."Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit:…."
Jesus Christ is the “Lamb who was slain” (Rev. 5:6-14). If we are willing to die with Christ, “we shall also live with Him” (2 Tim. 2:11,12).But in order to be identified with Him, we must “go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Heb. 13:11-13).Identifying ourselves with Jesus involves the doing of things that are not “easy” — but then if Jesus had looked for an “easy” way to save us, we would still be lost.If we would be the disciples of the Lord, we will have to take up our cross and follow Him (Mt. 16:24-26; Mt. 10:38,39; Mk. 10:21).He died for us that we might live for Him (2 Cor. 5:14, 15).