Posts Tagged Christmas

The Christmas Confrontation

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:10-13

Some time ago I came across a news article on the sale of nativity sets reporting “that European manufacturers eager to be politically correct are retelling the story of nativity to attract single-parent customers” by removing Joseph from the sets. And in some sets the Joseph piece is replaced by a “rose complexioned female” which shop surveys say makes the nativity set marketable to lesbian consumers.

I suppose that I should not be surprised at this stuff anymore. Our world loves to dabble in religious symbols that have been drained of any meaning. We live in a culture where the cross is considered a decorative jewelry design, not as an instrument of execution and death. It is no wonder that the nativity is marketed according to consumer preferences, even immoral ones. Religion in small doses, like a pinch of seasoning, is acceptable, even fashionable in our day.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not against nativity sets. I am against the reduction of Christian truth to fashion statement or household decoration that can be adjusted to our tastes. I am against the naïve thinking that applauds the spirituality of people who want a nativity set in spite of the fact that they rewrite the Bible to get the one they want.

The irony of it all is that the birth of Jesus Christ guaranteed the final rejection of man-made religion and pseudo-spirituality. He was the definitive revelation of God to man (cf. Heb 1:1-2), “the way, the truth, and the life” Who alone provides access to the Father (John 14:6, 1 Tim 2:5, Heb 7:25). That is why it is so important that Bible-believing Christians not forget the true significance of the Lord’s birth. We must not allow the world to squeeze us into its mold of thinking about Christmas!

And, I believe it is important to remind us that the world still does not get it. All of the Christmas decorations cannot hide the fact that most of the world has not accepted the One who was born in Bethlehem twenty centuries ago. Religious symbols and rituals do not make Christians. 21st century spirituality needs to be confronted with biblical truth. The Christ who was born, lived sinlessly and then died for the sins of mankind is coming back as the Judge of the living and the dead (cf. Acts 10:42, 17:31). The only acceptable worship of Him is repentant, believing worship, not the self-styled worship of our world that conforms Him to our ideas.

Truly enjoy Christmas—worship the One who is truly worthy of worship, and tell others about His wonderful glory as revealed in the Word!

No Comments

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

13And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:13-14

One of my favorite Christmas hymns is Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. This hymn is based on a poem with 10 four-line stanzas by Charles Wesley published in 1739. Wesley wrote the poem within a year of his conversion to Jesus Christ, and it stands as one of the finest of his more than 6,500 hymns. It has gone through many revisions since its original writing, beginning with a modification by George Whitefield in 1753.

Wesley’s original line was:

                        Hark, how all the welkin (archaic for “heavens” or “sky”) rings,

                        Glory to the King of Kings!

Which Whitefield changed to its present form:

                        Hark! The herald angels sing

                        Glory to the newborn King.

As with most of Wesley’s hymns, this song is written as a condensed course in the biblical doctrine, with the focus of this song being Christ’s birth.

  • Stanza One—recaptures the message of the angels to the shepherds and places special emphasis on the work of the child as Savior.
  • Stanza Two—Wesley summarizes the essentials of Christ’s person: pre-existence and eternality (1st line), virgin birth (2nd line), two natures and incarnation (3rd line), and fulfillment of the Messianic promise of Emmanuel (4th line).
  • Stanza Three—Wesley draws on OT prophecies to describe the glory of Christ’s person and work: Prince of Peace comes from Isaiah 9:6 and Sun of Righteousness is drawn from Malachi 4:2.

Wesley finishes the third stanza by pointing to the true significance of Christ’s birth:

            Mild He lays His glory by,

            Born that man no more may die,

            Born to raise the sons of earth,

            Born to give them second birth.

What a powerful summary of the purpose for Christ’s coming! I hope we will give that message its proper place as we celebrate Christmas. How can you do that? (1) By thinking about the meaning of these wonderful hymns we sing so that our minds and hearts engage in genuine worship, (2) by telling others why the Son of God really came, and (3) by making sure that your own family’s Christmas celebration does not ignore Christ—read the Scriptures together and offer thanks to God for the gift of His Son.

No Comments