Not Just the Birth of a Baby
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Not Just the Birth of a Baby
I am so glad we could all gather today–I am Chris Mueller, the teaching pastor of FBC. I wanted to give a special welcome to all of you who are new to FBC. I was hoping that you have been thinking about Christmas. I am sure you have–presents, gatherings, events, lights, food, family, visiting others and more.
Have you thought much about Christ at Christmas? We have been singing about the birth of Christ, and remembering the simple Christmas story. Yet today, in the midst of all the commercialism, many people are confused as to what really happened 2,000 years ago. So just for fun, take the outline out of your bulletin and take this honest quiz with me to see how much you and I really understand.
This is a tradition at FBC we haven’t done in a few years. We’re all friends here, so I invite you to answer aloud after I read each question, and see if you’ve mixed up the Christmas story like I had.
#1 Joseph was from: A) Bethlehem, B) Jerusalem, C) Nazareth, D) Egypt, E) Minnesota, F) None of the above
A. Luke 2:3 to 4 says Jesus was from the house and family of David, who was from Bethlehem
#2 How did Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem? A) Camel, B) Donkey, C) Walked, D) Volkswagen, E) Joseph walked, Mary rode a donkey, F) Who knows?
F. The Bible doesn’t say
#3 Jesus was delivered in a: A) Stable, B) Manger, C) Cave, D) Barn, E) Unknown
E. No word about it–Luke 2:7 says Jesus was laid in a manger, since there was no room for Him in the inn
#4 Which animals does the Bible say were present at Jesus’ birth? A) Cows, sheep, goats, B) Cows, donkeys, sheep, C) Sheep and goats only, D) Miscellaneous barnyard animals, E) Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! F) None of the above
F. The Bible doesn’t specify
#5 What “sign” did the angels tell the shepherds to look for? A) “This way to baby Jesus”, B) A star over Bethlehem, C) A baby that doesn’t cry, D) A house with a Christmas tree, E) A baby in a stable, F) None of the above
F. Luke 2:12 says, “This will be a sign for you, you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
#6 What is “frankincense”? A) a precious metal, B) a precious fabric, C) a precious perfume, D) an eastern monster story, E) none of the above
C. By definition, it is a precious perfume
#7 Who told Mary and Joseph to go to Bethlehem? A) the angel, B) Mary’s mother, C) Herod, D) Caesar Augustus, E) Alexander the Great, F) no one told them to
D. Luke 2:1, 4 to 5 says, “a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.”
#8 Who were the men who came to give gifts to Jesus? A) Kings, B) Wise Men, C) Rich Guys, D) Wise Guys, E) Magi
E. Magi, who were the Far East king-appointers
#9 The wise men found Jesus in a: A) Manger, B) Stable, C) House, D) Holiday Inn, E) Good mood
C. Matthew 2:11 tells us it was a house
#10 How many wise men came to see Jesus? 1, 3, 6, a small army, or unknown?
No one knows–Matthew 2:1 tells us only that they gave three gifts.
BONUS I think that this test was: A) Super, B) Great, C) Fantastic, D) All of the above
D. Of course
Not only is there a lot of confusion about the simple story of Christmas, but the true reason for the birth of Jesus Christ has almost been totally lost. It was a normal, obscure, poor baby’s birth—yet this child grew to be a man, began three years of focused ministry, died a criminal’s death, rose from the dead, and rocked all of history. The birth of this little baby changed history. It ended empires, founded nations, transformed criminals, changed the way we eat, and affected our entire calendar. The reason we sign checks 2014 is that two thousand fourteen years ago Christ was born.
Why did the birth of Jesus Christ rock the human race the way it did? For five powerful reasons that form a sentence when you put them together to help you remember. What makes Christmas so awesome is this–God became a man, to rescue a helpless human race by doing the work needed to make us right with God if we depend on Him alone and if we do, Jesus Christ will transform us, by living inside of us and through us.
First God became a MAN . . .
Galatians 4:4 says, “When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman.” God reached out to the human race through Christ. This is radical–Jesus was God in a bod! God took on human flesh and lived here with us. Your Creator lived amongst His creation. And Jesus Christ appeared just like a normal guy–no glow, no halo, no special clothes. And not like a girl.
God was veiled in his humanity as fully God and fully man. He went through the pain, hardships and limitations of human existence. The Bible tells us Jesus suffered, wept, was tired, hungry, weary and experienced pain. He understands what it is like to live here, He understands the hardships we go through–He even felt the pressure of temptation.
Christmas was special because our God, the only God, the one true God came and lived like a normal person for 33 years. Our God is not distant, indifferent, uncaring, too big or too busy—no, He came, lived here, and knows firsthand life on Earth with its pressures, difficulties, trials, hardships and relationships.
We know God cares for us, because He’s experienced our plight, He’s been hurt, bruised and struggled like us. He walked in our shoes experiencing more pain, rejection, hardship, and misunderstanding than all of us here put together. But not only did God become a man, but Jesus came . . .
Second . . . to rescue a HELPLESS human race . . .
God became a man because people couldn’t live good enough to be right with God or get to Heaven on their own. Religion, going to church, getting baptized, keeping the Ten Commandments, living good, serving the community–none of them can make us right with God, nor get us to Heaven. Isaiah 53:6 reminds us, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way [we don’t have to hate God, just be our own boss] but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him [Jesus].”
This is why what Christ did is called good news. The difference between Christianity and Islam, or Christianity and Mormonism, or Christianity and Catholicism, or Hinduism, or Jehovah’s Witness, or Buddhism is this–every faith, every religion, every belief on the planet teaches you a way, a path, a process for you to get right with God and work your way to Heaven. All of them teach it except one. Christianity is the only faith that teaches you can’t work your way to Heaven, or live good enough to get right with God. You and I are doomed–helpless and hopeless, guilty!
But the good news is, God became a man in order to do the work Himself so we can be right with God and get to Heaven. And friends, there are not many ways to God. There is only one way, and the Bible says it is only through Christ. John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’”
How many of you are willing to admit to some things? How many of you at some point in your life were angry at someone? Took something that was not yours? Lied to someone? Hated someone? Lusted after something or someone? (Perverts) The Bible says you have to be perfect to get to Heaven, and none of you are going to make it–I’ll not make it. Matthew 5:48, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
“Yea, but my grandma is almost perfect–she’ll make it. Chris, I haven’t murdered, robbed a bank or become a bimbo.” But God is perfect, holy, just, righteous, without any sin, so He says in James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”
“Yea, but I’ve gone to church, and I have served Christ–in fact, I have given, attended, prayed with my family.” Really? Matthew 7:21 to 23, “’Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” 23 And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”’”
It’s not about us doing anything for God. Jesus came to do for us what is necessary for us to be right with Him. This is radical. God came to help us, because we couldn’t help ourselves. The reason you may feel alone, without answers, empty, or unfulfilled is because of your sin which separates you from intimate fellowship with the God who made you. Our sin missed God’s perfect design for us. Our sin rebelled against God’s perfect plan for us.
Yet because God loves you so much, Romans 5:6 says, “For while we were still helpless [meaning we can’t get right with God ourselves], at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” Christmas is a celebration because God became a man to provide a way for a helpless people to get right with God. How?
Third . . . by doing the WORK needed to make us right with God . . .
Jesus Christ was born a baby so He could do all the work necessary for people to get right with God. Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus was born as the perfect God-man so He might take the punishment each of us deserved for our sins.
As a man Christ could be our substitute, pay the wages of sin which is death–as a man Christ could die in our place and take the punishment we deserve. As God, Christ could satisfy the Father’s justice and bear God’s wrath for our sin upon Himself. And Christ, the God-man did all this for us by dying on a cross, taking our place, and satisfying God’s hatred for sin. Romans 6:23 tells us, “The wages of sin is death.” Jesus paid the wages of our sins by dying on the cross for us.
This is what makes Christianity different from every religion. Religion is spelled D.O.–do, work hard, live good, be religious, and maybe God will accept you. Jesus is spelled D.O.N.E.–done, Jesus did the work for us. This is radically different than all other belief systems.
Are you confused by this? It’s easy to get confused. Just last week I was in the Philippines with our missionaries, the Clarks, and the short-term team headed up by Dojo. One of our kindergarteners was praying for us, and this is what he prayed. He prayed for Mr. Dojo and Pastor Chris who were handing out Bibles to the Philistines.
Sometimes even so-called Christians get confused, and they talk more about what they do for Christ, instead of what Christ has done for them. Christianity is about what God has done–not about what we do. So why did the birth of Jesus rock the planet? Because God became a man to rescue a helpless human race by doing the work needed to make us right with God, but only . . .
Fourth . . . if we DEPEND on Him alone to rescue us . . .
Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess that Jesus is your Lord, and you believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” In order to have a relationship with God now, and go to Heaven later, Christ must be your Lord. That means you’re willing to follow Jesus as number one in your life. He’s the boss, the chairman of the board, He calls the shots and directs your life through His Word. He isn’t a resident in your life, He is the president of your life.
Every one of you here serves somebody (like the Bob Dylan song). A true Christian, a born again Christian, serves Christ. Most serve self, but genuine Christians serve the Savior. Most follow their will, but authentic believers follow God’s Word. If we hate our sinfulness, confess that we are responsible for our sins, admit that we have been our own boss, done our own thing, ignored or rejected our Creator, turn from our sin in repentance, and depend on Christ alone and rely on His work on the Cross alone, believe Jesus died for our sins, rose from the dead and now want to follow Him as our Lord, we can be saved.
All that means is when salvation is genuine it means you repent and have faith. God has given you a heart where you turn from following your will to following His Word, where you now trust Christ and do not trust yourself, and you believe Jesus was God who died for your sins and rose from the dead and lives to give you new life now and eternal life forever. Then He will make us right with God now, forgive us, give us a new heart and bring us home to Heaven, just as Jesus promised in John 6:37, “the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” God became a man to rescue a helpless human race by doing the work needed to make us right with God if we depend on Him alone. And if we do . . .
Fifth . . . Jesus Christ will TRANSFORM us by living inside of us and through us
Read 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” What makes the birth of Jesus Christ so radical is when we depend upon Jesus Christ alone, His death on the cross for our wrong choices, thoughts, words, attitudes and actions, and we believe His resurrection from the dead, which guarantees He can forgive us, give us abundant life now and eternal life forever with Him in Heaven.
When you depend on Christ, it isn’t just a belief, a feeling, or a new idea–but God actually comes to live inside us. In fact, if Jesus doesn’t live in you, then you’re not a true, forgiven, Heaven-bound Christian. Second Corinthians 13:5 says, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you; unless indeed you fail the test?” (Would you pass or fail?)
There is only one way to be made right with God. In John 14:6 Jesus dogmatically said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” And there is one main way to prove you’re a real Christian. In John 14:15 Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” And 1 John 2:4, “The one who says, “I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
A true Christian has been given a heart that wants to go to church, read the Bible, pray, minister, give and serve, as Romans 6:17 says, “But thanks be to God that . . . you became obedient from the heart [because God gives His own a new heart].” True Christians obey God’s Word because they want to. Real believers attend church because they really desire to. Authentic Christ-followers seek to share Christ cause they want others to be right with God and to know God.
You may not have met a true Christian until this day. They are a radical people, given to Christ and His Word, seeking imperfectly to put Christ on display. They want family and friends to know Christ. That’s why they want to talk about Christ with you. Are you going to listen?
The birth of Jesus Christ rocked the planet. Everything changed. God became a man to rescue a helpless human race by doing the work needed to make us right with God. If we depend on Him alone, Christ will transform us by living inside of us and through us for His glory. Do you want to be right with God? Do you desire real purpose, forgiveness from your guilt, a guarantee of Heaven, real joy and love in relationships? Then turn to Christ.
It will not come from knowing that the baby Jesus was God, or going to church, or praying a prayer, or walking an aisle, nor having a self-defined Christianity, where you determine the terms of what it means to follow Christ. True salvation comes as you depend on Christ alone and choose to follow Him according to the Bible. And that won’t happen unless He transforms you from the inside out.
I invite you to turn to Christ today, and invite you to come back and continue your search for a genuine relationship with God. Maybe you’re not ready, but you are hungry and want to learn more. Or today, cry out for mercy for your sins. The Bible teaches you have offended God–He hates your sin. In fact He hates your sin so much, He had to kill His own Son in your place to take care of it. So understand if you don’t turn to Christ–as the Judge you will face at the end of time, He will have no problem condemning you forever to eternal punishment in Hell.
Christ went through Hell for you on the cross for your sin. It is time for you to surrender your life to Him. There is only one way to Heaven–only one way to be right with God, only one way to be forgiven, only one way to have an abundant life now and eternal life forever. And that is by turning to and depending on Christ. If you want Christ, or want to know more, let me ask you to do two things.
1st Fill out the card in your bulletin right now, drop that in the offering plate so we can pray for you and contact you. We don’t want anything from you. We don’t want your money–we want you to know Christ.
2nd Before you leave this campus, I want you to tell those who brought you about your desire to know Christ, or to talk to one of our counselors about your desire to know Christ. It is really important, since the Bible says, Matthew 10:32 and 33, “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”
Allow me to lead you in prayer right now. Thank You for sending Your Son, thank You for doing for us what we couldn’t do ourselves. Thank You for taking our punishment for our sins. Thank You that it all started with Your birth, which we celebrate this week. As we take our offering now, receive these gifts as acts of worship and thanks. Keep anyone from giving who is trying to earn points with You, and don’t allow anyone to think they’re right with You because they gave. But allow us to give out of hearts that have been transformed by You. Allow us to give because we are so thankful for all You have done for us. Allow us to give so that we might reach others. And cause all of us to leave with thoughts of You. Help those who have responded to learn what it means to be Your follower, and encourage others to come and hear Your Word. For your glory, in Jesus name, Amen.
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