Flashback Friday: Beyond The War On Christmas

Originally published December 7, 2016:

christmas-crossThis is the time of year when many evangelicals complain about the “war on Christmas.” Admittedly, something inside me  cringes at the politically correct greeting,  “Happy Holidays,” causing me to rebelliously answer, “Merry Christmas!” I’d love to attribute my rebellion to a desire to follow the great Reformers, but it probably really comes from having been a young teenager in the 1960s.

Anyway, I do understand the feelings of those who take offense at the secularization of Christmas. I emphasize with folks who quote the cheesy line, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” But sometimes I wonder if these culture warriors are more interested in “taking back Christmas for the Lord” than in the Lord Himself.

The practicalities of the Incarnation raise amazing questions. And the questions multiply, alternately intriguing me and frustrating me with the complexities of Jehovah, the very Sustainer of all creation (Colossians 1:17), depending on His mother for His basic needs.How could Mary and Joseph teach the Word of God (John 1:1-14) how to speak? How does a young couple raise God? Did  Jesus attend Hebrew School already knowing the Torah, and did He work to memorize the Psalms with His brothers?

Of course, too much speculation on such questions lead to apocryphal stories, tempting us to believe that the Bible isn’t sufficient to tell us everything we need to know about Jesus. Take care, dear sisters in Christ, to let such questions lead you to worship this Incarnate God, content not to understand the particulars.

That said, I’m going to ask one more question. When He ate the Passover lamb each year, did He anticipate that Good Friday afternoon when He would suffer and die as the Lamb of God Who would take away the sins of the world (John 1:35-36)?

Actually the answer to that one isn’t as important as its main point. The Second Person of the Trinity took on human flesh, becoming fully Man without ceasing to be fully God, laying aside His glory (but not His deity) for 33 years for one specific purpose. He came to be crucified.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~~Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)

That death on the cross, mentioned in verse 8, offered atonement for sin which would apply to all those who would believe in Him. See John 10:11, Romans 5:8 and 1 John 3:5 for just three of many Scriptures testifying to His atoning work on the cross. Through His sacrifice, He allows us all to glorify God the Father.

Christ’s incarnation rightly fascinates us. But it should do so much more than engage our intellect with speculation. It should bring us to the   cross, assuring us of His grace to pay for our sin. And as we worship Him for dying in our place, perhaps we can be patient with well-meaning people who wish us Season’s Greetings.

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The Wonderful Message Of Christmas — And Why People Work So Hard To Obscure It

2015 ChristmasI personally know many non-Christians who just love Christmas. They’ll decorate their homes to the hilt, send out beautifully illustrated year-end newsletters wishing people peace and joy, and maybe even put up a cute nativity scene as an homage to the story of the first Christmas.

For them, Christmas is primarily about brightly wrapped presents, feasting on scrumptious food, and parties. Songs mentioning benign infants lying in mangers must be supplemented with other songs about jingling bells and an obese elf from the North Pole who sees us when we’re sleeping. And then there are the infamous office parties and their accompanying innuendos about who was nice and naughty.

Most of all, they’ll declare that Christmas is about children. Not so much about a specific Child, although some might give Him an obligatory nod, but children and their sense Continue reading

Do You Realize What You’re Reading?

God's Megaphone

Justin Peters famously says, “If you want to hear God speak, read your Bible. If you want to hear Him audibly, read it aloud ” Justin uses that pithy saying to combat the growing expectation evangelicals have that the Holy Spirit should speak personally, apart from the Bible.

I’ve written several blog posts demonstrating the sufficiency of Scripture, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I wrote more in future posts. As evangelicals increasingly believe that God speaks to them in a still, small voice or in visions and dreams, we must sound the alarm against this false teaching!

Lately, however, I’ve been considering another aspect of the Lord speaking through the Bible. For all I’ve written and said about this matter, I find myself sometimes Continue reading

Prayer: A Seldom Realized Privilege

king-jesusEach morning, John and I listen to John MacArthur’s Grace To You broadcast. Currently, Grace To You is featuring MacArthur’s most popular Christmas messages that he’s preached over the course of his fifty years of pastoring Grace Community Church. Today’s message focusing on the deity of Christ captured my attention, but not in the way you might expect.

As MacArthur preached on Jesus being the Son of the Most High, and therefore being God Incarnate, I thought about God as the Most High Being. I don’t meditate on the fact that He is the Most High often enough, which usually leads me to regard Him a little more casually than I should.

That casual attitude particularly shows up in my prayer life, I’m sorry to say. Yes, I know the stereotype of Continue reading

False Converts: Evaluating Myself And Others

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In general, we probably would do well to avoid trying to determine whether or not someone is a false convert. I feel a temptation lately to analyze one of my friends who exhibits signs that she may not genuinely know the Lord.

For that matter, I sometimes try to figure out if I was really saved as a teenager or if my true conversion occurred in the last 15 years. There’s ample evidence to support both positions.

Over the years I believed a lot of bad doctrine, but over those same years I believed a lot of solid doctrine as well. Over the years I justified some of my sinful behaviors, but over those same years I grieved over other patterns of sin in myself and desired to please the Lord. I have concluded that I can’t evaluate my past spiritual status. I can only say that Continue reading

Singing Christmas Theology

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing has been my favorite Christmas hymn for most of my Christian life. It’s packed full of solid Biblical doctrine ranging from the Incarnation to regeneration, always bringing us back to His glory.

Singing this beloved hymn grows more meaningful each year as I notice new depths of theology in its familiar verses. As a result, I love it even more now than I loved it as a new Christian. I pray that you’ll discover truths about our wonderful Savior every time you sing it too.

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Saturday Sampler: December 1 — December 7

penguin-sampler

Protestant thought owes a lot to Augustine. But Augustine didn’t have perfect theology, as Leonardo De Chirico of The Vatican Files demonstrates in this month’s blog post.  170. Totus Christus (The Whole Christ) or Solus Christus (Christ Alone)?  reveals yet another error in Roman Catholicism. It’s a shame that Augustine played such a prominent part in the error this article exposes.

It gets discouraging when we witness to people without seeing anyone come to faith. So Andrew Kerr’s article, It’s all been a waste?, in Gentle Reformation offers wonderful perspective from Isaiah on dealing with a lack of response.

SlimJim writes Bible Contradiction? Should we follow our own hearts? in The Domain for Truth both to teach us proper ways of interpreting God’s Word and to remind us that following our hearts isn’t the wisest course of action. I highly recommend this piece!

Don’t miss The Christmas Ornaments (Part 2)  by Leslie A of Growing 4 Life. A little bit of Christian fiction can be fun, especially after this difficult year of internet squabbling and culture’s increasing rebellion against the Lord. Treat yourself to this gentle story that exalts Jesus Christ and gives some harmless pleasure.

If you want to read a truly excellent examination of how occult practices are seeping into even conservative churches, visit Tulips & Honey Hub to read Through The Narrow — The False & The Deceived: By Tami & Gina. Not many people have noticed this dangerous trend, so I praise God for giving these ladies the courage to write about it. This may be my pick of the week.

Eww! A fairly graphic experience of repairing his toilet gave Eric Davis insight into how we should regard ourselves. Thus Plumbing, Self-Esteem, & the Great Love of God in The Cripplegate. The conclusion reminds us of God’s beauty.

Writing for Gentle Reformation, Jared Olivetti gives some pointers on Guarding Our Words by highlighting a few pertinent Scriptures. I definitely need instruction in this matter. Perhaps everyone does.

So many people have been blogging about the vitriolic arguing on the Internet lately. It’s definitely a problem, I agree. But Tim Bates adds an interesting dimension to the conversation by writing Rebuke, Reprove, Recycle  for Things Above Us this week. He raises points that have pretty much gone unnoticed amid all the pleas for civil discourse.

I don’t share Melissa’s opinion that Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, is a “valuable tool.” It’s based largely on psychology, which almost always encourages self-focus. Interestingly, she writes How We Got the Love Languages Wrong in Your Mom Has A Blog and pretty much proves my point.

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