Friday, December 23, 2016
Christmas means something different this year
With Christmas upon us, the familiar sound of Christmas carols fill the air waves. They are songs we all know, have heard since we were kids. One can easily sing along to almost any of them as they are so well known. Often we sing the songs without giving much thought to the words. This Christmas however, it seems that whenever I hear a song that has to do with Jesus coming to the earth, I well up with tears. I wondered why this was the case, I have heard the songs many times, they haven't changed. What did change?
I came to the realization that my increased sensitivity to Jesus' arrival on the earth and the emotion that surrounds it has to do with holiness. What does holiness have to do with Jesus coming to save us?
Before I answer that, this past year I have done a fair bit of study around the topic of holiness. What it means and why it is important. I have a better grasp of the term now than before but I still have a long way to go! However what it has done is that understanding holiness a bit better has helped me to understand a bit better the extreme sacrifice of God to come "down" to us in the God man, Jesus. Before we even talk about His death on the cross, to realize that this Holy Holy Holy God would come down to live with us, like us, as one of us is hard to believe. The fact that He was born in a manger, not even in a home just is beyond my comprehension. There really are no words. This is what makes me emotional. Now that I have a bit better of an understanding of Holiness, it helps me appreciate so much more the sacrifice God made in coming to us. The name Emmanuel "God with us" means so much more to me now. This Holy Holy Holy God humbled Himself and stooped to our level in order to save us and show us His love for us! Wow! No words.
This improved understanding is why I am so so so against what Andy Stanley has said recently. Here is a quote from him, “If somebody can predict their own death and their own resurrection, I’m not all that concerned about how they got into the world, because the whole resurrection thing is so amazing,” he said. "Christianity doesn’t hinge on the truth or even the stories around the birth of Jesus … It really hinges on the resurrection of Jesus.”
Of course I am not going to minimize the resurrection of Jesus, without it we are dead in our sins. However in the same way I am not going to minimize the virgin birth of Christ either and neither should Mr. Stanley!
We better be concerned about how Jesus came into this world! I mean if it wasn't a virgin birth, then it had to be a natural conception that came from the union between a man and a woman. If that were the case, then Jesus was born from Joseph's seed. If the man Jesus came to be because of sexual relations between Mary and Joseph, then Jesus was a sinner. Does that sound like a leap? It isn't and here is why.
In Psalm 51:5 King David writes this, "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me...." If it is true that David was sinful from the time he was conceived, then it is also true that we were all sinful in our mothers' womb. How could a baby not yet born, sin inside of a their mother? Only one way, if the nature of that child was sinful. It isn't that David was committing sins inside of his mothers womb, he is saying that he is sinful, in his nature! So the same would be true of us. Think of it, you don't need to teach your 1 yr old how to be covetous of another child's toy, or how to be mean to them or how to be selfish. Kids are just born that way! And it starts from the time they are conceived.
Ok, back to Jesus. If the virgin birth isn't important (according to Mr. Stanley), then so what if his life was the result of sexual relations between Mary and Joseph? Why does that matter? It matters because if Jesus was not born of a miracle of God that we come to call the virgin birth, then Jesus was sinful! And if Jesus was sinful, then he could not have saved us from our sins. His death on the cross would have only paid for His sins! If Jesus was born due to the coming together of a sperm and an egg, then we are all headed to hell!
I have to vehemently disagree with you Mr. Stanley, how Jesus got into the world is of the utmost importance! If Jesus was not born of a virgin, the entire Christian faith fall apart and we are still lost in our sins with no way to be reconciled to God!
I am shocked that a mainline evangelical preacher doesn't see this! Those who know me know I am not about splitting the kingdom and arguing over grey matters in scripture. I think unity in the Body of Christ is very important. However there are times when we must draw a line and not cross it. Another way to say it is there are a few hills we must be prepared to die on and for me this is one. I hope it is one for all who call Jesus Lord.
God went to extreme lengths to preserve His holiness. He went so far as to do a miracle and be born as a human without a human father being part of the picture! The reason He did it is because if Jesus had been born of Joseph, then Jesus would be sinful. The Bible says that "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Rom.3:23. It also says this, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin." Heb. 4:15
So there you have it, we are all sinners, all of us......except Jesus. Our High Priest who can sympathize with us because He walked in our shoes. But He never sinned, unlike every other human being who ever lived. And it is a good thing He didn't sin because if He had, He would not have been able to save us from our sins!
I am so disappointed that Mr. Stanley is casting doubt on the virgin birth of Christ. He must not realize it but in so doing, he is casting doubt on the fact that Christ was our sufficient substitute, the only one who could save us from our sins. He is casting doubt on the entire Bible and the Christian Faith.
Jesus was born of a miraculous birth. God did it to preserve His holiness in the person of Jesus Christ. He went to extreme lengths to do it because only perfection can create perfection. The saying goes, "no one is perfect" and humanly speaking that is true. So that is why no baby born of a natural birth (from sinful parents) can be born anything but imperfect (sinful). Only imperfection could come from imperfect people. In the same way, only perfection could come from a Holy perfect God.
Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. Take some time this Christmas to just be with Him. He wants to commune with you, for you to seek Him. Take some time to consider the unbelievable yet real sacrifice of God to come to this earth, to save us.
While you are at it, have a listen to my favorite Christmas song and think about that amazing sacrifice. https://vimeo.com/113628297