December 2015

From The Pastor's Heart

One of the great benefits of the Christmas season is an increased openness to conversations about Jesus.

By Charles F. Stanley

One of the great benefits of the Christmas season is an increased openness to conversations about Jesus. People are generally more accepting of Him when He’s pictured as a tiny baby lying in a manger. Even some who don’t believe in Christ still enjoy the Christmas story. There’s not much in this scene to raise hostilities except in those who truly hate any mention of His name.

One of the great benefits of the Christmas season is an increased openness to conversations about Jesus.

But along with this opportunity for discussion comes much misunderstanding about Christ’s true identity. It’s understandable that those outside the church have incorrect ideas about Him, but even some Christians have incomplete knowledge of Him. They know He’s the Son of God and their Savior but are unable to accurately explain to anyone else who Jesus really is or why they believe in Him. This is why we need to ground ourselves with six basic scriptural truths regarding His identity.

First, Jesus existed before being conceived in His mother’s womb. Since the Christmas story is about His birth, some people assume that’s when His life began. This was exactly what most of the Jews believed at that time. That’s why Jesus caused quite a disturbance when He claimed that He existed before Abraham was born (John 8:56-59). And just before His crucifixion, while He was with His disciples, He prayed to the Father saying, “You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). This could only mean that He was alive with the Father before time began.

Second, Jesus was born of an earthly mother and a heavenly Father. That’s why He was called the Son of God. Although He existed in eternity past, at the appointed time, He left His home in heaven and entered this earthly realm through the womb of a virgin (Luke 1:34-35). This was an essential element in God’s plan of salvation. A perfect sacrifice was required to pay the penalty for mankind’s sin. But every person since Adam was born with a sin nature. However, since Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in a virgin’s womb, He didn’t inherit Adam’s sinful nature. He alone lived a perfect life and is therefore qualified to be our Savior.

He alone lived a perfect life and is therefore qualified to be our Savior.

Third, Jesus was both God and the Son of God. When the apostle John wrote his account of Jesus’ life, he called Him “the Word,” declaring: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). 

The Son of God came to earth as a visible man displaying “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). Throughout His ministry, Christ affirmed His deity by claiming that He and the Father were one (John 10:30) and that whoever saw or knew Him had seen and known the Father (John 12:45; 14:7).

Fourth, the Father and the Son created all things. Christ’s role in creation is first implied in Genesis 1:26 when God says, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” The plural pronouns reveal that all three members of the Trinity were involved in creation. But Colossians 1:16-17 more clearly states what the Old Testament implied: “By Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible ... He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Just imagine, Jesus was born into the world He created. What an amazing display of sacrificial love for lost mankind.

Fifth, Jesus’ name is like no other. There is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved (Acts 4:12). This is one of the reasons the world sees Christians as intolerant— because we proclaim Jesus as the only way to the Father. Although many people mock and take His name in vain, we know that one day every knee will bow before Him and confess that He is Lord (Phil. 2:9-11).

Sixth, Jesus will someday return to earth as the reigning King and Judge of all mankind. Since so many Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled with His first appearance, we can be certain that He will also fulfill those that apply to His second coming. Instead of a secluded entrance into the world as a helpless baby seen only by Mary and Joseph, next time every eye will see Him when He comes on clouds of glory (Rev. 1:7).

Jesus was not an ordinary baby, and He was never meant to be kept in the manger only to be brought out once a year as part of a quaint story. He is so much greater than most people think, and Christmas offers us a unique opportunity to let others know His true identity. As God opens doors for conversation about His Son, I pray He will also fill you with boldness to walk through them. After all, there is no message more important. Jesus Christ is the only hope this world has.

Prayerfully yours,

Charles F. Stanley

P.S. All of us at In Touch Ministries would like to wish you a merry Christmas. As you celebrate Christ’s first coming, may you have the same sense of anticipation the Old Testament prophets had. Just as they longed for their Messiah, may you eagerly look forward to the second coming of your Savior. What a day that will be when He sits on His glorious throne and makes all things right, filling the earth with the knowledge of the Lord. 


What happens to my notes

56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."

57 So the Jews said to Him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?"

58 Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am."

59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.

24 Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

34 Mary said to the angel, How can this be, since I am a virgin?"

35 The angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

30 I and the Father are one."

45 He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me.

7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him."

26 Then God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him.

17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."

9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,

10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

7 BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.

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