Jesus is Better than Santa Claus

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We have just wrapped up the Christmas season and 2014 is nearly upon us. During this time of the year we hear a lot about Santa Claus and we hear a lot about Jesus, or we hear a lot about the lack of hearing a lot about Jesus. Honestly though we probably think a lot more about what Santa is bringing us rather than what Jesus is offering us. When we think about it though honestly Jesus is so much better than Santa Claus. Here is why that is true:

Santa is a Legalist 

Nobody like a legalist, no one. Living your life by a strict and moral compass, and expecting the same from others. This is exactly what Santa does! He is making a list and just in case you slipped up he is going to check it twice. If you are good then he rewards you, but if you are bad he completely embarrasses you by giving you coal.

Santa does not give gifts

I know what you are thinking what about the gifts under the tree on Christmas day. Though there may be presents there that does not make them gifts. It goes back to Santa being a legalist. You earned those gifts by correct behavior throughout the year, or you got coal for not being good. A gift is something you do not deserve. Santa convinces us to be good so we can earn our gifts, and that is the opposite of what a gift is.

Jesus is not a legalist and offers the greatest gift

Jesus however offers the true gift. That while we were dead in our sins he showed love by dying for us (Romans 6:23). This gift we could never earn, Jesus earned it for us. For us to attain salvation apart from Jesus is impossible. None of us our righteous, and are indeed born separated from God (Ephesians 2:3). The works of Christ on the cross is what brings us life and unites us with God (Romans 5:19).

So while Santa is good and all, Jesus is so much better. No matter how great your Christmas was remember: The best gift was not and never will be under the tree, but it died on the tree for us. That is love, and that is the greatest gift. This gift is for anyone no matter how good or bad they are, because not one of us is good. So let’s accept this perfect gift, let’s talk about it all the time, and let’s invite all to take part in this life changing gift.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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Thinking About Christmas

It is easy to look past the meaning of Christmas, or even to simplify it in some regard this time of the year. Family is coming in town, last minute shopping, getting the holiday ham ready, and a host of other issues will come up. We will attend candle light services, sing sweet hymns, and put up our nativity scenes. All very fine things to do, but do we take the time to sit and really think about the meaning of Christmas. I am not talking about just the birth of Christ, but the reason for the birth of Christ. Not just the life he lived, but what that means for His most prized creation? Not just about the gift we received, but what we are to do with it?

The Reason He Came

 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17

He came because there was a problem. Creation had sinned and death had entered (Romans 5:12), His most beloved creation was separated from Him. By nature now, we are creatures of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). Enter the Christ, fully man and fully God. He came to make a way for his creation. Here is God’s love in giving his Son for the world (v. 16), where we have three things as Matthew Henry lays out:

1. The great gospel mystery revealed: God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son. The love of God the Father is the original of our regeneration by the Spirit and our reconciliation by the lifting up of the Son.

2. Here is the great gospel duty, and that is to believe in Jesus Christ(Whom God has thus given, given for us, given to us ), to accept the gift, and answer the intention of the giver. We must yield an unfeigned assent and consent to the record God hath given in his word concerning his Son. God having given him to us to be our prophet, priest, and king, we must give up ourselves to be ruled, and taught, and saved by him.

3. Here is the great gospel benefit:That whosoever believes in Christ shall not perish. This he had said before, and here repeats it. It is the unspeakable happiness of all true believers, for which they are eternally indebted to Christ.

What it means

The point of His birth and life is everything that leads up to and comes through Easter. He reconciled His people back to a personal relationship with God. Not only that, but not just for Israel but all people have the promise of Christ. Because of Romans 5:12 we are all subjects of death. We need a substitute and we needed the law to be fulfilled and obeyed. Jesus Christ came and did that, and it counts for you and me. The righteousness of Christ and the blood of Christ counts for us (Romans 5:19). 

What we do

We go to the ends off the earth as Christ laid out in Matthew 28. We go and tell the world about this gift that is available, that we received and we wish for them to as well. We remember the miracle of the birth of Jesus, we remember His life and obedience, we remember his death and resurrection, and we humbly and lovingly and relentlessly tell the world about it. 

I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. Soli Deo Gloria

 

Newtown: A Year Later

Last year we witnessed something that is all to common as twenty first-graders and six educators were killed by Adam Lanza, who then shot himself. I remember sitting on my couch shortly after having surgery and watching the events unfold before us. So many questions. Where was God? Why do bad things happen to good people? How is this fair? As I thought through the things in my mind I posted this to my social media:

“With the tragic news today in Newtown, CT a man in China stabbed 22 elementary students. This is not an American problem, this is not a gun problem, this is not a time to promote your political agenda, it is a sin problem.  Evil exist, and the enemy comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy (John 10:10). This world is depraved, evil, and hurting. Let it know someone has come to save it. Tell the world about Jesus.”

Sin is Real

I believe this still to be true. God was there in Newtown, he was in absolute control and nothing occurred without His permission due to His Sovereignty. That is comforting to me, that in the midst of chaos and tragedy God sits on the throne in control. What would horrify me is if these events occurred and God was not in control, that is terrifying. Still, sin is a everyday reality much like death. Sin brings death and has ever since the fall in Genesis 3. Sin will not stop until Jesus comes and makes all things new. So until that day we cling to Him and we tell the world that only He can save.

Humanity is Evil

We keep in mind none of us are exempt from death, or even good (Romans 3:10). Instead we are separated from God until we are reconciled back to Him through faith in Jesus. Bad things do not happen to good people, because no person is good. In the history of the world there has only been one good person and they crucified him.

God is Fair

Christ came as the God-man and rightfully took our place. So when these events happen we might have a home with him eternally. We are not exempt of this evil in the world, but we can have the guarantee of salvation. God is too fair. Jesus hung on a treat so he could intercede to the Father on our behalf. So he could tell the Father my blood covers that. My hope is not in this world, that these events will end, or that people will become good. None of that will happen, my hope is in the life and death of Jesus Christ which is credited to me as righteousness.

Let us see Jesus through Newtown, let us proclaim Jesus because of Newtown. The only comfort, peace, and guarantee we will ever truly possess and know on this earth.

John Piper penned this from his blog at Desiring God:

Newtown, we remember. We still feel. We pray that Jesus Christ will come to your homes this Christmas. There is none like him for healing. None. Because he was

Perfected through suffering. (Hebrews 2:10)

Despised and rejected. (Isaiah 53:3)

Ready to be wounded. (Isaiah 53:5)

Enduring anguish. (Isaiah 53:11)

Poured out in death. (Isaiah 53:12)

Raised to help. (Romans 14:7–9)

No one suffered more. And his was a gift. The greatest Christmas gift ever. It really is a gift. Free.

No one else can feel what he has felt. No one else can love like he can love. No one else can heal like he can heal. No one else can save like he can save

Why The Gospel is Offensive

It is an old cliche and if you spent anytime around and Christians you may have heard them say, “well the gospel is offensive. ” While this comment is accurate have we ever sat and thought why this true, and what this means for Christians? Well the truth in the statement lies in just that, the truth. Truth often offends people. Maybe it’s the fact that you can’t sing, or that you do have some sort of problem. When we hear these things we go on the offensive and become defensive. When you are on the outside of that truth it is something you do not want to hear. 

So what does the Gospel say about those on the outside?

It says a few things like that we are “born in wrath to God,” “alienated/hostile in mind/evil in deeds,” “dead,” and “children of the devil.” None of those little blurbs are very encouraging, nor are they what people want to hear. That their life is an offense and open rebellion to God. This is why people do not want to hear it, people do not enjoy the truth when the truth is opposite of who they are.  We come to God offering nothing, it is all dependent upon him and not us. 

The gospel is offensive because it relates so close to home. The very things that Jesus teaches against are the things that we are so often in the act of doing. It is offensive because there is nothing we can do about it. We can’t be good enough, pay enough, nothing we do is enough. This is offensive to human pride that nothing we do can change this state. The Bible does not say good things about those outside of Christ, because there is nothing good but Christ. 

Don’t Treat Non-Belivers Like Believers 

Be careful though not to hold the unregenerate to the same standards as the regenerate. As Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 1:18, the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, and the well-spring of life for those who believe. Don’t be surprised when sinners sin, it is their nature like it was in us before Christ. They will not believe like Christians, nor will they live a Christian life so do not expect that. 

Nothing good will come out of this. So instead of seeking out to condemn those outside the faith, and telling them how awful they are maybe our efforts will be better spent meeting them where they are at. 

We Don’t Have to be Offensive

The Gospel is offensive, but that does not mean we have to be though. The way that people in society treat homosexuals is a prime example I believe. Nothing about the way many Christians treats the gay community show love. So before you call that kid out for wearing a hat to church, or condemning someone due to their sexual preference remember something very important. People that are lost are going to hell, an eternity separated from God. That is not offensive to me but heartbreaking, when we are offensive we are pushing people away instead of toward the cross. Make sure we are showing them Jesus.

This doesn’t mean we shy away from sins, but we let Christ do the work because he is the only one that can save. Treat them with love, gentleness, and with a genuine spirit. Once they come to know the Lord, then we can deal with the sin issue. 

Hold Believers Accountable 

Do not be afraid though to call those out though who claim to be in Christ but do not show it. Although it is common belief that you cannot judge a regenerate believer that is simply untrue as I wrote here. The gospel will still offend us as believers, because it will correct and it will rebuke parts of our lives. Let us push each other towards righteousness even if for a time it offends us.

The Gospel will offend, it will also bring dead people to life. Soli Deo Gloria.