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Pondering the Depths of Christmas
The eternality of Christ–Christmas 2013
Merry Christmas everyone–not happy holiday, not winter break. But I’m so glad you would join us today in order to celebrate Christmas, the day when eternal God added humanity to His person, and was born as a tiny infant. Yet He was, and is, 100% God and 100% man in one person–Jesus Christ.
I have a confession to make–I am weary of light, fluffy, entertaining Christmas sermons, especially for the Creasters. You know, those folks who only come to church on Christmas and Easter–the Creasters. I’m grieved for the people who only hear milk, when what they desperately need is meat on who God is. So today I want to stop the foolishness of this season, which not only disses the birth of Christ, but also misses the profound nature of what Christ’s birth actually means. Christmas is not a nice story–it’s a gritty rescue mission. It is God, acting on our behalf, so that we might be forgiven, rescued from (the certain and just) punishment of eternity in Hell, and transforming us so we can actually know God now and forever.
Christmas is about God doing something shocking. We celebrate Christmas because it was the moment when God was born as a man, in order to accomplish our salvation. Sadly, most of us don’t take the time to think about what really happened 2,000 years ago that changed all of history. Every time you put a date on top of an official paper, like December 22, 2013, you should recall Jesus Christ–why? Our entire calendar is based upon Him, since it was that many years ago God was born a man, in the person of Christ. Jesus changed our calendar–He alone changed all of history.
Not just that, but think about what His birth meant. Have you ever once asked the profound questions that surround the birth of Christ? Have you ever really thought deeply about Christmas? You should—not only because it will give meaning to this season, but God being born a man was meant to radically transform your life for the better, and to change where you live eternally. So think with me about what it meant for God to be born in that stable, laid in a manger in King David’s hometown of Bethlehem. I hope you ate a good breakfast–not cause you’re gonna lose it, but you’ll need it.
Did Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, know as a newborn that He was God? Was He aware of who He was in Mary’s womb? Was He aware through the birth process (ouch!), and then as a newborn? How about when He was learning to walk, and eat, and talk? Like other babies, He cried when He was hungry. Like other children, He fell down while learning to walk. Like other children, He didn’t always say things correctly. Like other children, He didn’t always get the food to His mouth. But was it all a show, an act—or something unique?
As a baby, could He have said, “How about another blanket, Mom?” As a child, could He have whipped out a gymnastics flip when he learned to walk? As a child, could He have spoken like a philosopher, if He wanted? As a child, could He have gotten all the food to his mouth, or was He merely trying to identify with our sloppy process? As a child, was Jesus even aware that He was totally God and man?
We know for a fact that Jesus did know He was God at the age of twelve. Turn to Luke, chapter 2. At age 12, Jesus went missing–Joseph and Mary were returning home from Jerusalem, but couldn’t find Jesus with the relatives in their caravan, so verse 45 and following say, “When they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem looking for Him. 46 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. 48 When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.’ 49 And He said to them, ‘Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?’ ”
So at age twelve, Jesus knew He was God–He knew God was His Father. But what about all those early years–while being mothered by Mary, was Jesus thinking, “You’d better treat me right; I made you, woman.” Did Jesus think, “This smell is really gagging me, how about changing my diapers now”? As a kid, could He have snapped His finger and all His morning chores were done?
He was 100% God and 100% man–and as God, He did not lack any of His attributes. He was omnipotent—all-powerful. He was omniscient—all-knowing. Yet He lived, just like you and I, as a baby, a boy, then a man. Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” He went through everything we go through, yet without sin.
So what’s the answer? Did Jesus know He was God as an infant? We don’t know for certain. I think we’d all agree, Jesus could have known, could have walked, and could have spoken like an adult, if He chose to, even as a baby. He could have. But I believe, in His humility–in His desire to be our substitute, in His great love for us, to live as we live, to live as fully man, the Lord Jesus Christ self-limited His own self-perception as a new-born infant. Just as He limited the expression of His glory (no glowing), and limited the expression of His profound attributes–I believe the Lord limited His own awareness of His deity as a newborn.
There are many more questions that surround the birth of Christ, like how come the Lord’s buddies, when He was really young, didn’t pick up on His sinlessness? It seems obvious they didn’t see His power, which was manifested later in calming storms, restoring limbs, cleansing lepers, casting out demons and raising the dead. But He never cursed, never cheated, never lied, never got mad at unfair play, never forced His way to the front of the line, and never stole anything! But they didn’t catch it.
Or how was it that eternal God, who exists outside of time, could actually enter time and live among us as a man? Or how could God, who is omnipresent, fully present everywhere, be restricted to one geographical place as a man in a body? And if that doesn’t give you enough to ponder, have you forgotten that, unlike any of us, the baby born in Bethlehem actually existed before He was conceived in the womb? And not only existed before, but existed forever before anything was–before the universe, or a planet earth. That baby being held by Mary existed forever, and will exist forever.
The little baby child Mary was cradling was her creator. Paul makes this clear in Colossians 1:16 and 17, “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.” How could Jesus be our Creator and the authority over all the universe? Because He is God–and as God, He’s eternal. God is eternal, and once created, we humans are eternal too.
I want you to think deeply about this attribute of Jesus Christ–what attribute? Jesus Christ is eternal. What difference does that make? Some think eternity is simply infinity, in relation to time, but it is so much more. Don’t let this hurt your head–but think about it. An eternal God is not only without beginning or end, but an eternal God is also free from the succession of events, and is totally sufficient in and of Himself. Whoa–what did I just say?
#1 Jesus Christ has no BEGINNING and no end; He is ETERNAL
Christ is without beginning or end. Moses said in Psalm 90, “from everlasting to everlasting. Thou art God.” How do you understand everlasting? Periodically, children ask, “Where did God come from?” We’ve all been taught to believe everything comes from someplace. Every physical object has a maker–there was not an explosion at an electronics store that spontaneously created my I-phone. Every effect has a cause, and every complex design has a designer. Somebody made my house, built my car, and designed my I-phone.
Just like that, humanly speaking, somebody was responsible for bringing me into existence. We teach our kids from their earliest days, the unique builder, maker and designer of all things is God. He created the universe, of which every other tangible thing is a part. The next question, the follow-up question, is a natural one–we set them up for it, and they will ask it. They can’t help themselves–they should ask it. “Then, if God made everything, then what–who made God?”
The answer is difficult for them to accept. They have no frame of reference to compare it to. They’ve never heard an answer like this before. It is unique–one of a kind. It will leave them puzzled at first, but there is no other possible explanation–ready? Nobody made Christ–He always was. The Bible never tries to prove His existence, or explain where He came from. The Word of God merely assumes Christ is there, and that He’s always been there. Christ had no beginning and no end.
When you open your Bible to the first page, verse one, we simply read, “In the beginning God.” He’s just there. And look at what He’s doing. He’s creating the heavens and the earth. God existed before all things, and He Himself brought everything else into existence.
If any being existed before God, then He would be God, and we’d have to begin our questioning all over again–like, “So then . . . ahhh, who made Him?” Jesus Christ is eternal God, who made us–you and I. You owe your existence to Jesus Christ. What this means is, because Christ is eternal, Christ is also self-existent. Jesus Christ is the only being there is who does not owe His existence to someone else. Christ is independent of any other being or cause. He is over and above the whole chain of cause and effects. Christ is uncreated, un-originated, without beginning, owing His existence to no one outside Himself—He is self-existent.
Christ has life in and of Himself. Jesus put it this way in John 5:26, “For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself.” Were it any other way, God would not be God–an eternal being must be self-existent. Even common sense tells us that behind every cause and effect, there has to be one who Himself is un-caused and self-existent.
When the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt, they were feeling oppressed, forgotten and helpless–turn to Exodus 3. But they knew, in spite of their distress, that behind all their caused circumstances, somewhere, somehow, there had to be a God who Himself was uncaused, who could make sense out of what seemed senseless suffering–it had to be so. They remembered the eternal promises made to Abraham. God has to be!
So when God told Moses to go back to Egypt and deliver them from bondage, Moses hedged his bets—“Who shall I say sent me?” So God told Moses to say, Exodus 3:14, “I AM WHO I AM. Tell the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.” When the people heard this–the One who sent Moses is the self-existent God who simply is, that was a massive encouragement. They would follow Moses.
Sadly, not everyone is that sensible–scientists, philosophers, and your friends often reject an eternal, self-existent God because they can’t put Him in a test tube, or explain all His ways. But He’d not be God if we could fully explain Him. And it is pride alone that keeps the scientist or student or relative from embracing an eternal, self-existent, uncaused being–why? Because if they did so, they would be forced to embrace another truth that is hateful to them. They would have to admit that everything and everyone, including themselves, owes their existence to this self-existent God. That they are accountable to this God who made them.
To embrace a self-existent God means your next breath, your very life, is held in His hands alone. And egotistical, self-sufficient, rebellious people are not willing to admit that. They want to believe they need nobody but themselves. Like God, they want to be self-existent–and only a crisis, seeing their frailty, or the death of a loved one reminds them they are not. Sometimes I think we need to be reminded that the same God who has no beginning also has no end.
Read Psalm 102:25 to 27, speaking of God’s self-existence. “Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.” Now eternal God also made beings and places that have no end.
Christ, the God/man, our loving Creator, made beings like Himself, in that they are eternal–who are they? Angels and human beings—and that’s great news for real believers, because we will someday enter into eternal life we already possess in Christ. Someday all time pressures will be gone, and we will be able to relax with total joy, and a delighting fullness in the presence of the eternal Christ who made us for Himself.
All people who are rightly related to an eternal God will obviously enjoy Him eternally. It’s gonna be mindblowing, #awesome–so good, 1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” Eternity in Heaven is beyond comprehension.
But eternity is not good news for the unbeliever or make-believer. The eternal God who made people with no end, also made places with no end. One place, Heaven, is designed for His genuine followers–those who are related to Him through birth and the new birth. But another eternal place was prepared for rebellious angels and their arrogant leader. Matthew 25:41, “‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.’“ The devil and His demons go to a place of eternal fire–a place of torment day and night, forever and ever eternally.
Revelation 20:10, “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” While God didn’t make this place for people originally, all unbelievers and all make-believers (the ones who accepted Jesus at some point, but do not follow Him) will go there. All those who reject God’s gracious offer of salvation, and all those who claim Christ but still have not surrendered their will to His Word will spend eternity in Hell.
Revelation 20:15, “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” What will the make-believer say? Matthew 7:22 and 23, “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.’”
There is no way to escape eternal hell, other than bowing in submission of life before the eternal, self-existent God, admitting you are unworthy of His favor, acknowledging your sins against Him and your need of forgiveness, then embracing the salvation He provided by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, to die in your place, in order to pay the penalty due from your sins, to satisfy God’s anger over your sin, then rise from the dead. You and I are totally dependent on Christ, totally at His mercy. It cannot be any other way with a God who has no beginning or no end. We must give answer to the eternal, self-existent one. But it even goes further than this–eternity is more than forever.
#2 Jesus Christ exists outside of TIME
The little Christmas baby existed before the womb and His birth–because the little Christmas baby exists outside of time. Think about time for a moment. Time is measured by a sequence of events–past, present, future . . . yesterday, today, and tomorrow. As creatures who exist in time, we are bound to the fleeting succession of present moments. Like right now at this moment, you’re trapped in a vortex of time—“When is this guy gonna finish?”
One moment after another–moments before are but a memory with lingering results, and moments to come are still an expectation which we cannot fully predict. We measure succeeding moments in our culture by the rotation of stars and planets. We use clocks to help us measure moments—slowly like a year, or as fast as a timer for the 100-meter dash. But we can’t escape the limitations of time, we’re in bondage to the succession of moments and the events that fill them.
But to understand eternity and embrace a self-existent Christ, you must think differently than your life and beyond human experience. Eternity is more than the endless extension of the backward and forward. For convenience, we say eternity past and eternity future, but in actuality, eternity supersedes time. Eternity is a mode of existence that is not bound by the succession of events–eternity is a mode of existence that is beyond the succession of events, beyond time.
There are no such things as past, present, and future with Christ. Christ created time. Yes, He can work within its framework, but He is not bound to it because Christ Himself is over it and above it. Christ as God lives in one eternal now. Jesus Christ entered time, was embraced by His mother and stepdad–but as God He was not and is not limited by their time. Our tomorrows are just as real and present to Christ as our yesterday and today, because Christ has already experienced them.
No human illustration exists that will not fall short, but try this. Hiking in Yosemite on a trail, right now you’re on that trail, yesterday there was a part of the trail you left behind, and tomorrow you’ll arrive at the destination the trail is leading to. But if you fly over the trail, you actually see the beginning, the middle where you are, and the end and everything else–all of it at one moment, at one time, all at the same time. That’s eternity.
Imagine watching the Rose Parade on a street corner in Pasadena. You view the parade one float at a time, one band at a time, one group of horses at a time–all of it a succession of events. When it’s finished, you can look back on your experience and say, “I saw the parade.” Now imagine yourself in the Goodyear blimp, viewing the parade from start to finish. You are aware of the sequence, but you can see the end from the beginning, and all of the parade area. It is all part of your consciousness at once, rather than merely a succession of events.
That is the way Christ views our lives, and in fact, all of human history from the beginning of time to the end of time and beyond—all at the same moment, fully present all at once. Isaiah states it this way in Isaiah 46:9 and 10, “Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’”
Christ does not acquire His knowledge from a succession of events like we do (not float by float, or band by band)–Christ knows the end as thoroughly as the beginning before it began, since He’s already lived it. It is eternally present with Him. For the true believer, this is a truth to rest in. God knows our tomorrows–there are no surprises for Him. We may experience a great many surprises in life, but there are no surprises with God.
He already knows the joys in store for us, and He already knows the tragedies we shall face. And Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Christ has a plan that will work all things together for good, but here is the restriction–only for His children. Knowing a God like that motivates us to please Him, but also helps us to face our future with courage. Christ is going to be there tomorrow, whatever it holds for us. As the next page of our lives open, He is waiting there and has arranged things for His glory and our good–but only if you are truly related to Christ through salvation. You must be one with the eternal One to spend eternity with Him. The little Christmas baby is eternal and self-existent–and not only that, but . . .
#3 Jesus Christ is SELF-SUFFICIENT
Christ being eternal means He existed before time and space, before any created thing or created being–that means God can exist without anything or anybody outside of Himself. We know He can do that because He already did it. Christ existed when there was nothing in existence. God doesn’t need anybody or anything–He’s totally self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency is not true of any other being or creature–no living organism is self-sufficient except God.
You and I need other things to exist, right? We can go without food for 30, 60, 90 plus days. Some of us are more prepared to go without food than others. We can go without water for three days. We can go without air for three minutes. We need things outside of ourselves. But not Christ–if He needed anybody or anything outside Himself, then He would not be complete. He has in Himself all He needs. And if Christ was not complete, then He could hardly be God. But God is complete, and He needs absolutely nothing.
When Paul preached to the intellectuals in Athens, he declared Acts 17:24 and 25, “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.” Christ needs nothing outside of Himself. Ready–embrace the truth, accept this reality. God does not need you–merry Christmas!
God does not need our worship, fellowship, even our witness. Yet God does love you, and He desires relationship with His children. In His grace, He desires to use us, and allows us to experience the satisfaction and excitement of His eternal plan. But He does not need me, He doesn’t need you, you, or you. God did not create us because He needed us, but because He decided in His sovereign wisdom and good pleasure that creating us would be the best way to demonstrate His glorious character.
Isaiah 43:7 says, “Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made.” That is no affront to us–we are created for His glory. Loving us and wanting us as His children gives us greater significance and security than needing us could ever provide. Rather than God needing us, we need God. We are incomplete and unfulfilled apart from intimacy and union with Him. We can only find true meaning when we submit to Him as our Savior and Lord. We need Christ, and only Christ is complete in Himself.
Since Christ possesses everything needful, if we become one with Him in true salvation, then we can find all that we need in Him. That’s what Paul meant in Colossians 2:9 and 10, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.” That tiny baby born 2,000 years ago is 100% God and 100% man. He is complete–He is all in all, self-sufficient. And you will never feel complete until you are in Him and He in you.
The prophet Micah predicted in Micah 5:2, “But as for you, Bethlehem . . . from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” The child born in that Bethlehem stable was God from the days of eternity, who existed from all eternity, complete and self-sufficient. And only by exchanging all that you are for all that He is will you find your completeness in Him.
Will you consider how foolish it is to scrape, claw, fret, stew, cry, manipulate, guilt trip, and a thousand different ways to get other people to meet your needs–when only Christ dwelling in you will satisfy the emptiness of your heart and give you what you truly need? We can only be complete when we are in Christ. Just like Mary needed her child to save her from her sins, so do you. Are you thinking deeply about Christ and Christmas?
The eternal Christ is without beginning and end. Christ is free from the succession of events. Christ is sufficient in Himself. Eternal life is more than an endless extension of time, but a quality of life, boundless life, all encompassing life, marked by infinite, endless, richness, completeness, and total satisfaction. This eternal life is ours to enjoy, now and forever—but only through the person of Jesus Christ.
Is life for you all about pleasure, partying, having fun, getting drunk, having sex, finding a spouse, getting ahead, getting rich, being entertained? Are your days filled with getting up, going to work, coming home, hanging with friends, watching TV, then going to bed–with an occasional big event scattered in? The Bible warns us how empty that is.
Isaiah 5:11 and 12 say, “Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink, who stay up late in the evening that wine may inflame them! 12 Their banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute, and by wine; but they do not pay attention to the deeds of the Lord, nor do they consider the work of His hands.” If you desire abundant life now and eternal life forever with Christ, search your heart and honestly answer this question . . .
1 Does Jesus Christ live in you?
Turn from sin in repentance, and depend on Him in faith. Have you exchanged all that you are for all that He is? Did you experience an internal transforming change of heart, where you want to obey Christ and it shows in how you live? Did you die to yourself, and you now live for Christ? Have you fallen in love with Christ, His Word, and His Church? Do you now deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Christ? Do you believe in Christ and His death on the cross for you, and resurrection from the dead, and does your life prove it? Turn to Christ today, and do it now.
2 What are you LIVING for in this life?
Politicians want to etch their names in the history books. Athletes want to memorialize their feats in the record book. Businessmen want to build a financial empire that will endure. Everyone wants immortality, to not be forgotten. Sadly, fifty years after you die no one will even remember your name. Politicians are forgotten, records broken, and money evaporates. It is futile to live for things on this earth. Some have nobler goals, and want to make this world (even Hemet) a better place–but this world is going to burn and be remade.
God has said it in 2 Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” If Christ is eternal, then no effort on Earth has a higher priority than knowing Him, loving Him, obeying Him, serving Him, and sharing Him with others. Only what we build into people’s lives will endure for eternity. One life soon past, only what’s done for Christ will last.
Live for eternity now by submitting to the only one who was and is eternal–the one who lives outside of time, the only one who is fully self-sufficient. Turn to Christ–that little Christmas baby is your only hope. Don’t leave here feeling warm and fuzzy. Don’t leave until you have submitted to Christ as your God.
Do not bow your heads. Right now, if you want Christ, with every head up and every eye looking around, if God is working in your heart and you want to turn from sin to follow Christ, then right now raise your hand, and someone will talk with you after service. If no one does, no problem–God alone saves, not me, not this sermon, no ego, no notch. I’m just giving you an opportunity to confess before men that you want Christ right now. Let’s pray.