Saturday, December 5, 2015

"The Gospel"

This time of the year we as a people in this country begin to think about the Christmas Holiday.  For some it is tradition, for others it is offensive.  For some it is something we should hold on to, for others it is something we should let go of.  Each season the battle lines are drawn and fighting resumes in full force.  The uniforms vary from mangers to mistletoe's.  The flags or ensigns are waved consisting from Wise men offering gifts to a fat man bringing gifts.  To those who hold to the tradition we could point out in the beginning of our Nation our religious sentiment and faith was of such that Christmas was not even acknowledged or celebrated.  To those who find it offensive we could point out the incentive of good will and kindness to each other it promotes among us, and of course let's not forget the positive effect on our economy.

Christmas means many different things to many different people.  Jesus once posed a question to His Disciples saying, "Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am"?  It was obvious that Jesus "was," but what was important was who he "was."  That question moves along with time, and reaches each generation as well as each individual who hears His name. We must then answer, whom do I say that Jesus is?

It matters not if we hold to Christmas or let it go if we do not know what it is.  I would submit to you, if it is not the Gospel, it is not worth our consideration, must less our effort in the battle to retain it or disregard it.

If it is the Gospel, it is not only worth defending on December 25th, but on every other day of our life it must be proclaimed! If it is not Christ and Christ alone it is not worthy of the time expended for or against from any human being.  If it is Christ alone then it will be fought against fiercely and must be defended and proclaimed vigorously and completely each and every day. Let us take a look at the Gospel, when we do, we are commanded to believe, repent and amend our lives.

Mar 1:15  And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
1Co 15:1  Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 
1Co 15:2  By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
1Co 15:3  For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
1Co 15:4  And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
1Co 15:5  And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
1Co 15:6  After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
1Co 15:7  After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
1Co 15:8  And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
1Co 15:11  Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.
1Co 15:51  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 
1Co 15:52  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
1Co 15:55  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 
1Co 15:58  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Saint Augustine would proclaim: "The Word of the Father, by whom all time was created, was made flesh and was born in time for us. He, without whose divine permission no day completes its course, selected one day for His human birth. . . .

The Maker of man became man that He, Ruler of the stars, might be weaned as an infant; that He, the Bread, might be hungry; that He, the Fountain, might thirst; that He, the Light, might sleep; that He, the Way, might be wearied by the journey; that He, the Truth, might be accused by false witnesses; that He, the Judge of the living and the dead, might be brought to trial by a mortal judge; that He, Justice, might be condemned by the unjust; that He, Discipline, might be scourged with whips; that He, the Foundation, might be suspended upon a cross; . . . that He, the Life might die.

To endure these and similar indignities for us, to free us, unworthy creatures, He who existed as the Son of God before all ages, without a beginning, chose to become the Son of Man in these recent years. He did this although He who was subjected to such great evils for our sake had done no evil and although we, who were the recipients of so much good at His hands, had done nothing to merit these benefits." ~ Saint Augustine.

Stephen Charnock would tell us: "The Gospel was of an eternal resolution, , , , It is an everlasting Gospel; it was promised before the world began. It was not a new invention, but only kept secret among the arcana, in the breast of the Almighty.

It was hidden from angels, for the depths of it are not yet fully made known to them; their desire to look into it, speaks yet a deficiency in their knowledge of it.

It was published in paradise, but in such words as Adam did not fully understand: it was both discovered and clouded in the smoke of sacrifices: it was wrapped up in a veil under the law, but not opened till the death of the Redeemer: it was then plainly said to the cities of Judah, 'Behold! Your God comes'.

The whole transaction of it between the Father and the Son, which is the spirit of the Gospel, was from eternity; the creation of the world was in order to the manifestation of it.

Let us not, then, regard the Gospel as a novelty; the consideration of it, as one of God's cabinet rarities, should enhance our estimation of it.

No traditions of men, no inventions of vain writs, that pretend to be wiser than God, should have the same credit with that which bears date from eternity. 

That divine truth is mysterious, . . . The whole scheme of godliness is a mystery. No man or angel could imagine, how two natures so distant as Divine and human should be united; how the same person should be criminal and righteous; how a just God should have satisfaction, and sinful man justification; how the sin should be punished, and the sinner saved.

The study of the Gospel must not be with a yawning and careless frame. Trades, you call mysteries, are not learned sleeping and nodding; diligence is required; we must be disciples at the Lord's feet. As God for the author, so we must have God for the teacher of it; the contrivance was His, and the illumination of our minds must be from Him. As God only manifested the Gospel, so he only can open our eyes to see the mysteries of Christ". ~ Stephen Charnock

May the Grace of God be toward each of you this Season,

David

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From the heart and the Home

   After reading my husband's post "The Gospel," this prompted thinking in the direction of just how precious this Blessing is to the world.  Realizing in some minute manner just what a privilege we've been given to bear such a message of Who Christ is and what He has accomplished to the glory of God the Father, should humble us more and more before Him.  

This year has been a time of examination, repentance, and rethinking of long held traditions and understandings that have been a part of who we have been and what we have believed for so long.  The celebration of Christmas was one area that gave personal struggle, and in all sincerity has done so for many years.  Christ is worthy of celebration 24/7.  But, the fact remains that the celebration of His birth (as chosen on this unlikely day) is turned into every other festive celebration imaginable.  This causes me to wonder what He's interceding with the Father about concerning His children during this season.

Folks come up with cute slogans such as "Keep Christ In Christmas!" or "Jesus is the Reason for the Season."  We may buy the bumper stickers or bold pins to place on our coats and sport about, but in all actuality this may be as far as it goes.  The feasting, over done Christmas gift buying, financial hardships for many, and worn out moms and grandmothers, are a few small glitches to say the least. 

These things said, traditions can be beautiful and have there place in the life of believers in Christ.  But in this land many are over stuffed with affluence and high living whether one has such resources available or not.  As a personal challenge this year, my wish is to simplify the traditional touches and exemplify the Gospel of Jesus Christ our LORD.  Praise God, He came.  Praise God, He bore our sin and died.  Yet, Praise God, He rose!  Praise to the One Who ever lives to make intercession for us as He's seated at the Father's right hand.  

May our families and guests of our homes and gatherings this season have no reason to be confused as to Whom we are acknowledging as the Guest of Honor.  It should be evident to all in our home Who is truly the love of our lives.

Oh Come, Let Us Adore Him!  Christ the LORD! 

        

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