Friday, December 23, 2016

Five Truths About Christmas

After making purification for sins... (Hebrews 1:3)
Why did Jesus Christ come?  Well, the world is corrupted by sin.  It is not as bad as it could be--that would be Hell--but it permeates everything, from merely putting ourselves first to outright hating our neighbor and the God who created us.  Sin is lawlessness, and God's law is spelled out in the ten commandments.  Murder can be taking a life, or it could be mere anger with your neighbor.  Stealing can be taking things that don't belong to you, or it could be wasting the time of others or even yourself.  Coveting can be desiring things that do not belong to you, or it could be jealously protecting what you yourself own.  The range is wide, and so we are all, each one of us, living under the condemnation of the law of God.  There is now escape--except for one.  That is where Jesus comes in.  He came to earth to make purification for sins.  That means he took our sins upon himself and gave us his own righteousness--because he never sinned.  Only God in the flesh could be tempted as we are and not sin.  This great exchange is the purification for sins, and only Jesus could do it.  Why?  Because he loves us. There's no other reason.  He doesn't need us. His creation certainly isn't made better by us being in it.  No, he loves us, just because he wants to.

Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. (Luke 1:30)
There is nothing that Mary did to earn God's favor.  She did not merit it in any way.  Likewise, God unconditionally forgives us of our sins.  This is grace at its finest.  We can rest assured that nothing we can do will cause him to reject us.  He chooses us of his own free will.  There is nothing we can do to stop it or start it.  He just does it.  He is a saving God.  Why?  Because he loves us.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)
This famous line is usually phrased, "peace, good will towards men," but that phrasing seems to include all human beings on earth.  We know that some are not saved, and the actual phrase as described above affirms that.  "Among those with whom he is pleased," does not mean that we have to please him before he will give us his good will.  It is his pleasure to give us his good will.  And his good will is Jesus Christ himself, and whoever believes in his holy name will have eternal life.  Jesus died only for those who believe. 

And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. (Luke 2:17)
When we know the good news, the urge to tell everyone becomes irresistible.  When we know we are Christ's own forever, we can't help but shout to the heavens with joy.  Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!  I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.

And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. (Matthew 2:11)
We persevere day to day, after we are saved, by reminding ourselves of our salvation.  We do this in three ways.  One, we get baptized, receiving the outward visible sign of the inward invisible grace that we are saved.  Two, we hear the word preached each week, to hear the good news of Jesus Christ and remember that he saved us and no one can pluck us from his hand.  Third, we partake in Holy Communion each week to take the gospel into our bodies tangibly, reminding us of our baptism, and reminding us of the gospel we heard.  Persevere with the saints!  Come into God's loving embrace through our precious savior Jesus Christ.  Hear the good news.  Find him on every page of the Bible.  Believe!  Find joy!  Be saved!