"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
‘Tis The Season of Repentance or Offense
As we all gather for the Christmas holiday this season, many of us will reminisce of past times and magical moments of our childhoods. Many times it seems that Christmas will never be the same as it was when we were five and amazed by all the lights. They were much simpler times when everyone seemed to have more patience and wanted to stick around just a little while longer at holiday events. The food was better and all the loved ones we lost along the way were present with us in those good times. In fact, as we reflect it is easy to catch ourselves taking the here and now for granted. It’s easy for us to forget how blessed we are every day by the same baby who made this season possible a couple of thousand years ago. While we are reflecting, celebrating, and exchanging gifts this holiday season, let’s not forget our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We must not let our hearts develop no room in the Inn for the savior of the world. Don’t put the Christ child out in a mental manger until the holidays are over, let’s remember His sacrifice and worship him now.
We all know one of the most favored Christmas songs heard this time of year called “Mary Did You Know?” It dives into all the unknowns that we wonder about how Mary must have felt and wondered about her new child who would soon be the Savior of the world. I find myself wondering a different set of questions also. Questions such as: Mary how bad was the world when you were pregnant? Did it seem that no man would repent in those days? Did you warn those who you met that they must soon repent for the King was soon to be present with them? Mary did you know that John the Baptist would soon preach repentance to the world and prophesy the ministry of Jesus? I wonder all of these things and many more as I read about the birth and prophesied Christ stories of Luke, Matthew, Isaiah, and others. Jesus was not only the birth that brought the most joy to the world, but also brought in the most controversial message in all of the history of the world.
The message of His gospel will either convict or divide us (Luke 12:51-52). For many years in the United States, corporations have been forced to remove nativity scenes, crosses, and even Christmas trees from their premises during the holidays. Recently, it has become a common place for many people to use the saying, “happy holidays” instead of the traditional “Merry Christmas” in fear of making an offense to someone of another faith. It leaves me to wonder, why is the name of Christ offensive and why must this holiday be offensive in general? There are many reasons that could be explained in an academic debate for days, but we can address the main reason here and now. 1 Corinthians 1:18 tells us that, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (KJV). Christ and the cross that represents his crucifixion offends those who are convicted by the Holy Spirit, but deny responsibility for their transgressions. The Word also tells us in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (KJV). Of course, Christians will never fully escape persecution so long as the enemy roams this earth (2 Timothy 3:12), however we can break free from our bondage and the offense that the cross brings us by repenting of our sin.
The cross and the name of Christ bring offense to the hearts and minds of man because of what it represents. Since because the holiness, righteousness, and presence of God brings conviction upon man, we are reminded of these offenses in the presence of His name and cross. Just the mere presence of either one of these two brings such power and conviction, that rather than just ignore it, those who won’t give in to it have to lash out in agony. The reason is that the Scripture tells us that we are either servants of evil or servants of God (Romans 6:15-18) and because those who are servants of sin are also servants of the enemy, they cannot bear with the meaning behind the name of Jesus Christ. The Word of God also tells us that we cannot serve two masters and must serve either God or the enemy (Matthew 6:24). The enemy knows because of the sacrifice of Christ, he has been defeated. He also knows that if you bear the name of Christ in your heart, that you have also chosen eternal life over defeat with the enemy in Hell. In knowing these things, we must be quickened to turn away from our wicked ways and repent (Acts 3:19). Even as born-again believers, we must remember when we encounter someone who is offended by the name of Christ not to take offense by their reaction, but to witness the love of Christ in return. We should give them the Gospel with love, and in God’s timing they may believe because of the seeds that we have sown into them. Of course not everyone will believe and many will be offended along the way, but we must be in constant prayer for these individuals keeping in mind that they are indeed “slaves to sin” and a dead system. Thank God that He has provided us with a way to life because He was the “life.” As you celebrate with family and friends this Christmas season, let us remember those who are less fortunate than us and on their way to suffering by remembering the reason for the season! God Bless and Merry Christmas from your family and friends here at SCM!
Isaiah 7:14 (KJV)
14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Galatians 4:4-5 (KJV)
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons
Matthew 1:21-23 (KJV)
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
John 1:29 (KJV)
29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
John 3:16 (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
1 Corinthians 1:18 (KJV)
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Luke 12:51-52 (KJV)
51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
Romans 6:15-18 (KJV)
15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
Matthew 6:24 (KJV)
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Acts 3:19 (KJV)
19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
John 1:4-5 (KJV)
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.