Tagged: Incarnation

Day 18: Counting Down to the Christmas Revolution

NativityEditor’s Note: Today, we have a guest post from my wife, Gail (aka “the hot blonde”!). Enjoy!

Luke 1:13 (The Voice Translation)

Messenger: Zacharias, your prayers have been heard. Your wife is going to have a son, and you will name him John. He will bring you great joy and happiness – and many will share your joy at John’s birth.

Luke 1:25 (TVT)

Elizabeth: I have lived with the disgrace of being barren for all these years. Now God has looked on me with favor. When I go out in public with my baby, I will not be disgraced any longer.

Luke 1:30-45 (TVT)

Messenger: Mary, don’t be afraid. You have found favor with God. 31 Listen, you are going to become pregnant. You will have a son, and you must name Him “Savior,” or Jesus. Jesus will become the greatest among men. He will be known as the Son of the Highest God. God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David, and He will reign over the covenant family of Jacob forever.

Mary: But I have never been with a man. How can this be possible?

Messenger: The Holy Spirit will come upon you. The Most High will overshadow you. That’s why this holy child will be known, as not just your son, but also the Son of God. It sounds impossible, but listen – you know your relative Elizabeth has been unable to bear children and is now far too old to be a mother. Yet, she has become pregnant, as God willed it. Yes, in three months, she will have a son. So the impossible is possible with God.

Mary (deciding in her heart): Here I am, the Lord’s humble servant. As you have said, let it be done to me. And the heavenly messenger was gone. Mary immediately got up and hurried to the hill country, in the province of Judah, where her cousins Zacharias and Elizabeth lived. When Mary entered their home and greeted Elizabeth, who felt her baby leap in her womb, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Elizabeth (shouting): You are blessed, Mary, blessed among all women, and the child you bear is blessed! And blessed I am as well, that the mother of my Lord has come to me! As soon as I heard your voice greet me, my baby leaped for joy within me. How fortunate you are, Mary, for you believed that what the Lord told you would be fulfilled.

As I read the Christmas story this year, I was struck with fresh awareness of the personal costs of embracing God’s favor.   Elizabeth and Zacharias had endured years of unmet desire to have a baby. Elizabeth wore an aura of public disgrace and shame because God had not blessed them with a baby of their own. God’s messenger revealed to Mary that Elizabeth was “now far too old” to naturally bear a child. Elizabeth and Zacharias must have thought the time had passed and their deepest longing would never be met.

But God’s purposes and timing was perfect. The pregnancy and birth of Elizabeth and Zacharias’ son would be part of God’s confirmation to Mary that He was indeed at work in all of their lives to do miraculous things and to bring about the arrival of the Savior.

For Elizabeth, God had looked on her with favor. When she went out in public with her baby, she would no longer be disgraced.

God’s messenger told Mary that she, too, was favored and blessed by God. But for Mary accepting the motherhood of Jesus and trusting God at work in her life would mean embracing public disgrace and shame.

Can you imagine the whispers, the hushed conversations, the doubtful looks from those who had once been Mary’s friends and neighbors? Who would believe her even if she told them that her son, Jesus, was born of the Holy Spirit, a unique part of God’s plan to save us all? Even her loving, honorable husband-to-be, Joseph, had to be encouraged in a dream by a messenger of God to take Mary as his wife and to trust that she had been faithful to him.

Mary embraced God’s plan. She trusted Him. She couldn’t begin to know all of the personal costs, but she decided in her heart as God’s humble servant, “As you have said, let it be done to me.”

When God’s favor intervenes and His blessings appear to be burdens, He always has a special purpose. I don’t always understand or appreciate His favor. That is the time when I most need to decide in my heart to trust Him, to put the unanswered questions behind me, to embrace Him, His favor, and His purposes whatever the cost.

Editor’s Comment (Don): Trusting God in the midst of my questions… a significant lesson drawn from the Christmas Revolution!

Editor’s Note: If you would like to obtain a single PDF file containing all 25 blogs in the “Counting Down to the Christmas Revolution” series, click here to download. May God richly bless your efforts to explore the revolutionary truth underlying the Christmas celebrations around the world.

Day 17: Counting Down to the Christmas Revolution

17And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.1 John 5:11-13

Bubbles… float… to the surface.

John makes the case throughout his letter that when God is at work on the inside of a person, His activity “bubbles up” into changed thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

God begins to transform a person from the inside out, beginning at the moment when that person abandons self-rule (sin), yields himself to the love and governance of God the Father, and believes that Jesus Christ bore his sins (past, present, and future) on the cross (John 3:16; 1 Peter 2:24; Romans 10:9-10). Salvation begins with a sincere expression of faith in Jesus upon hearing the good news (the gospel).

But how can I know that He has come into my life? How can I know for sure that God is at work within me?

John’s purpose in writing his letter is to lead Christians to a place of great assurance and certainty that they are, in fact, children of God. His argument is simple: the “bubbles” of God’s activity on the inside will surface in the believer’s life. It is certain and it is inevitable over time.

A few years ago, I composed some diagnostic questions based on John’s insights. These are not practices to strive for… but “bubbles” of change associated with God’s activity within a human heart over time. John’s “bubbles” are indicators of the presence of God.

  1. Am I dealing with a God of revelation or imagination? (1 John 1:5)
  2. Am I living the way I want or the way He wants? (I John 1:6-7)
  3. Am I hiding or exposing sin in my life? (I John 1:8-10)
  4. Am I struggling against sin in my life? (I John 2:1-2)
  5. Am I motivated by love for God to yield to His directional control over my life? (I John 2:3-6)
  6. Am I drawn to love Christian brothers? (I John 2:7-11)
  7. Am I pursuing this life’s rewards or the next? (I John 2:12-17)
  8. Am I sensitive to doctrinal error? (I John 2:18-27)
  9. Am I longing for purity in my life as a pathway into my Father’s presence? (I John 2:28-29; 3:1-10)
  10. Am I responding to Christians in need with “deeds”? (I John 3:11-22)
  11. Am I conscious of the Holy Spirit’s activity in my life? (I John 3:23-24; 4:1-6)
  12. Am I growing in love because of my experience of God’s love? (I John 4:7-21)
  13. Am I exercising faith in God? (1 John 5:1-13)

Who is the active agent of change inside the Christian? The Son of God… the One born in Bethlehem!

The kind of confidence we are supposed to have comes from recognizing that inside us something has changed forever—that God has changed us and come to live inside us through His Son. John doesn’t write, “He who has the Church has life,” but rather, “He who has the Son has life.”

Salvation does not occur when we come inside the church, but when the Son comes to live inside us… the life-changing consequence of the Christmas Revolution!

Editor’s Note: If you would like to obtain a single PDF file containing all 25 blogs in the “Counting Down to the Christmas Revolution” series, click here to download. May God richly bless your efforts to explore the revolutionary truth underlying the Christmas celebrations around the world.

Day 16: Counting Down to the Christmas Revolution

16I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.Galatians 2:20

Although 40 percent of Americans report attending a Christian church on any given weekend in the United States, the actual attendance is less than 17 percent. And that number grows smaller each year. It’s no wonder that when we speak collectively to our culture about anything, no one is listening. Churches appear to have all of the same problems as society. Molestations, embezzlements, adulterous affairs, lawsuits, and internet porn wreak as much havoc in the church as anywhere else. We are powerless in the face of sin… and we are not reflecting the life of Christ to anyone.

Our greatest need is to know Him and His life.

Paul writes that Christ “loved me and gave himself up for me.” We preach and teach this, with the result that the best church members will try to be good and worthy of His sacrifice, focused on asking forgiveness when they fail. However, most believers never go past this point. The “good Christian life” becomes all about human efforts and His approval (or disapproval) of me: I do my best and He applauds (or frowns), forgiving me when I fall short. But the message of forgiveness and the eradication of my offenses is only part of the gospel; we need to know how to live now.

Paul’s assertion is stunning: “I have been crucified with Christ.” Christ not only died for me, but I also died with Him. The word crucified describes an event occurring in the past that is complete, but with consequences flowing into the present. For the person who has been born again (John 3:3, 5, 16), trusting in Christ to rescue them from the penalty and the power of sin, Paul is saying that salvation is intensely personal. You were saved, not by a transaction of new life in exchange for your trust in the Gospel, but through a  union of His Spirit with your spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17). Christ lives in you and you are one with Him (Colossians 1:27). Writing about this in his 1907 Systematic Theology, seminary professor A.H. Strong declared,

“Christ and the believer have the same life. They are not separate persons linked together by some temporary bond of friendship,–– they are united by a tie as close and indissoluble as if the same blood ran in their veins.”

Consequently, what is true of Christ’s relationship to sin, the Law, and the Father has become true of every believer. Sin is no longer your master (Romans 6:6). He is. This truth fuels a new ability to resist temptation, knowing that your spirit is no longer enslaved by sin, but the core of who you are has changed. He is with you. He is your life.

You will never consistently overcome sin habits and addictions in your life by trying to keep the “rules”, but through a moment-by-moment, dependent relationship with the One who rules over all things! Your new life unfolds through an internal conversation and love affair fueled by the presence of the Holy Spirit within you. He speaks. He directs and guides. He strengthens. He unveils His wisdom and releases His power… to you, in you, and through you.

God’s Word (the Bible) becomes alive for the person who has been united with Christ. As the believer reads, reflects, and responds to the God-breathed text (2 Timothy 3:16), the Spirit applies the truth to the believer’s heart, contributing to an ongoing internal transformation into the likeness of Christ. As we look at Him in the Scriptures, we come to know Him, and we become like Him. Our thoughts change. We begin to care about the people and things He cares about. We begin to act like He acts.

But it’s more than the imitation of Christ. It’s the life of Christ being formed and released through the human heart.

Paul puts it like this, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.”

So, since I trusted Christ to save me in 1978, it’s no longer about me. My short earthly life ended then. I died with Christ. My spirit is united with Christ and hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:1-2). In the realm of the Spirit, my spirit is alive in the Presence of God. The change in my heart cannot be undone (Romans 8:1-4). All of my sins remain forgiven (Hebrews 10:10-13). On this side of heaven, I will still have good days and bad days (and I do), but my union with Christ never changes. His work within me is incessant and will not fail. Not only will He one day express His rule throughout all creation, but He seeks to rule the deepest recesses of my heart. And whatever He starts, He finishes (Philippians 1:6)!

So, my life as a Christ-follower will be misguided and mishapen if I am consumed with me correcting me, or me straightening me out, or me trying to make something out of me. It’s not about me trying to be right or achieve a right standing before God. It’s not about “how am I producing for God?” Jesus produced everything necessary to give me full and eternal acceptance before a holy God — that never changes. I am out of the “production” business for God.

I am called to live simply by “faith in the Son of God.” The One born in Bethlehem launched the Christmas Revolution… in my life! And He is ready to do the same for you.

Source for church attendance in the United States: David T. Olson, The American Church in Crisis: Groundbreaking Research Based on a National Database of Over 200,000 Churches (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 28-30.

Editor’s Note: If you would like to obtain a single PDF file containing all 25 blogs in the “Counting Down to the Christmas Revolution” series, click here to download. May God richly bless your efforts to explore the revolutionary truth underlying the Christmas celebrations around the world.

Day 15: Counting Down to the Christmas Revolution

15“…but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”Hebrews 9:26

In the process of getting a divorce after five painful years of separation, Chip and Cindy Altemos had begun seeing other people. Then without warning, Chip’s health began to deteriorate rapidly. After Chip was hospitalized with kidney failure, Cindy made the decision to donate a kidney to her soon-to-be ex-husband. “There was no way I could walk around with two kidneys and he had none,” she said. “It was the right thing to do.” The transplant took place on February 21, 2007.

Recuperating in the hospital, a surprising thing began to happen. Chip said, “We slowly fell back in love again.” The couple reunited as a result of Cindy’s act.

Such sacrificial love carries with it the power to transform the recipient. Have you ever been loved like that? Whether you realize it or not, the baby born in Bethlehem grew up to love you deeply! The writer of Hebrews writes about the overwhelming, personal nature of Christ’s love for you.

For me, He went where I could not go.

“For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”Hebrews 9:24

In the Old Testament, the Tabernacle contained an inner sanctuary where God’s presence was believed to dwell. On the annual Day of Atonement, a high priest was allowed to enter that space and represent the people of God (9:7). He carried with him the blood of an animal sacrifice—killed to atone for the sins of the nation. No one else could enter there. Not me. Not you. No one was worthy.

When Jesus entered heaven following His death on the cross, He was worthy. Going before the very face of God as sacrifice and priest, Jesus entered God’s space “for us”—literally on our behalf. He is our access into God’s presence. He did it for me!

For me, He gave what I could not give.

“…not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another…”  – Hebrews 9:25

Intimate contact with God came at great cost.  Before a God who is holy, I am helplessly immersed in sins that will keep me from ever knowing His love. When no other human being could rescue me, Jesus “would offer Himself” as the atoning sacrifice for my sins. Only one without guilt could die for the guilty (2 Cor 5:21). He suffered (9:26), bore my sins as his own (9:28), and then put them away (9:26). He did it for me!

For me, He offers what I cannot imagine.

“He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”Hebrews 9:26

When I think that sin bars me from access to God’s presence, it leaves me with a sense of hopelessness. Even if I repent and “make it right,” sin recurs in my life. In the Old Testament, the high priest made atonement for the sins of Israel every year—a constant reminder that the way to God was opened ever-so-briefly through an imperfect, sacrificial system. No one could imagine an access to God that was always available.

Jesus opened up the way to God “once” for all time (9:26-28). Stressing the finality of Jesus’ sacrifice and decisive handling of my sins, the writer of Hebrews wants me to know that the doorway to God’s presence is permanently and always open to me. I will never be good enough to enter God’s space on my own merits, but I will always be welcome there. It really is hard to imagine, but He did it for me!

For me, He is coming.

“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”Hebrews 9:27-28

According to the writer of Hebrews, Jesus will leave the Holy Place of Heaven again and will come for His people, to complete the salvation begun during His first coming. The purpose of salvation goes beyond forgiveness. Salvation is about God coming after a people for Himself. He is not coming again because my sins have been inadequately done away with. He is coming for me!

How do I respond to a Savior who does so much for me? When Jesus returns, the Bible says He is coming for a people who are eagerly waiting for Him (9:28). Does your life reflect a core longing in your heart to be where He is?

Has your life been changed by the Christmas Revolution?

Source for the story: Associated Press, “Kidney Saves Marriage,” FoxNews.com, 6 May 2007, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,270337,00.html.

Editor’s Note: If you would like to obtain a single PDF file containing all 25 blogs in the “Counting Down to the Christmas Revolution” series, click here to download. May God richly bless your efforts to explore the revolutionary truth underlying the Christmas celebrations around the world.

Day 14: Counting Down to the Christmas Revolution

Candles“A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”Matthew 2:18

[12/14/2012] At Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, twenty children arrived at school this morning who would never leave alive. Eager for Christmas to come, their hopes and dreams were snuffed out by a shooter in a few minutes of indescribable tragedy. Adults died too. And hundreds of lives were shattered along with the bodies of the victims. Tears flowed freely across the land… including my own.

O dear Lord, You arrived here two millennia ago in the midst of this same kind of evil. In You alone, we find comfort in the present and hope for the future. Please capture the hearts that are broken. Don’t permit evil to beget evil. Please draw Your people into these scorched fields of human pain and agony to serve and heal through Your Presence.

Jesus was born for this battle… for days like today. From infancy, He encountered enemies that sought to eradicate His mission by destroying Him! The fight rages on and He calls His followers to join Him. How?

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” – Matthew 2:13-15

In the middle of the night, Joseph received a message from God: Herod is coming to “destroy the child.” Narrowly escaping to Egypt, the baby Jesus escaped the mass murder of all male infants and toddlers in Bethlehem.

Are you shocked? Or is this story a horrific reminder that the world we live in is at war? Evil is not simply an idea or an act. Evil is fueled by an individual consciousness nearly as old as creation itself. Millennia ago, the Bible explains that some of God’s creatures rebelled. The angels sinned. Man sinned. The world as God intended devolved into moral and spiritual chaos. Trapped in a very real spiritual war, we have enemies, and we need a Savior!

Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. – Matthew 2:16

After a lifetime of hatred and power-mongering, Herod is now determined to stamp out a divinely prophesied rival for his throne! Angered when the wise men failed to lead him to the child, he sent his troops to massacre the little ones of Bethlehem. Like so many senseless acts of violence and cruelty in the modern world, Herod raises the question: why would God allow such pain?

Preoccupation with this question can derail individual faith. A better question might be “who is responsible for the pain?” Jesus calls the devil the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11), a liar, and a murderer (John 8:44), who steals truth from the hearts of people who do not know God (Matthew 13:19), and is keeping them blind to the reality of a living God (2 Corinthians 4:4). He animates evil in the world, influencing and empowering those who do not know God to reject God and do everything that is offensive to God (1 John 5:19). According to the Scriptures, human suffering is a consequence of a very deadly warfare raging around every human soul.

The issue is not a question for the head. We need to check our heart.

How does God react to widespread suffering and pain? In Matthew 9:35-36, the Bible says Jesus was “moved with compassion.” He cares and so should we. We should not waste time on philosophical queries in the face of human suffering, but we should care deeply enough to be motivated to action.

But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” – Matthew 2:19-20

In this story we observe evil in motion, making repeated attempts to snuff out the life of the young Jesus. We also see almighty God anticipating and thwarting the enemy. Through the wise men, He provided financial support for a move to and from Egypt. In his sleep, Joseph received clear direction about when to move, when to stay, when to return, and where to settle—each decision countering the destructive forces in the unseen world.

However, we should never allow ourselves to slip into a cheap form of triumphalism, believing God is going to rescue all Christians from the deadly conflicts in this world. That would be an affront to the martyrs through the ages and an insult to the little ones who did not escape Herod’s soldiers then… or the gunman’s bullets this morning. Nevertheless, in every war there are casualties and atrocities.

But for those who know Him, our losses are real, but only temporal, and not eternal! God has a plan for His people. He is accomplishing His purpose, no matter what our seen and unseen enemies may do. Every action of our enemies will always play into His plan for our lives. Jesus came to rescue us from the enemies of our soul, both in this world and the world we cannot see.

Is this your God? Do you reject the notion that God is the author of evil? Do you embrace the truth that God will ultimately triumph over all? He truly is the Lord of Lords. He is the King.

Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.” – Matthew 2:21-23

Joseph’s obedience was instrumental at every step in this story, wasn’t it? With every direction, he responds with obedience. Apart from his sensitive, passionate pursuit of God’s purpose for his life, Joseph could have been a casualty in the conflict surrounding the birth of Jesus. He had a very significant role to play.

And so do you, especially on a day like today. So listen carefully and obey immediately!

We will shed tears along the way, commingled with His own, but the time for weeping will fade as the Victor puts down every evil and every darkness in the universe… and in our hearts. We will dance in eternity before the One born in Bethlehem—the One who was born for battle and ushered in the Christmas Revolution!

Editor’s Note: If you would like to obtain a single PDF file containing all 25 blogs in the “Counting Down to the Christmas Revolution” series, click here to download. May God richly bless your efforts to explore the revolutionary truth underlying the Christmas celebrations around the world.

Day 13: Counting Down to the Christmas Revolution

13But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.Romans 5:8-10

Peter Miller pastored a Baptist church during the American Revolution at Ephrata, Pennsylvania. Coming to the area in the 1730’s, Peter originally pastored Bethany Church, a German Reformed congregation. At the request of his friend Thomas Jefferson, he translated the Declaration of Independence into seven languages to help the world understand hat was happening in the colonies. He was well-known and deeply respected.

Michael Witman, a deacon at Bethany church, was deeply troubled and angered at Miller’s exit to become a Baptist preacher. Witman routinely harassed Miller and his congregation. He ridiculed them. He spread lies about them. One time Witman hit Miller in the face; on another occasion, Witman spit on him. Miller did not retaliate or respond. In fact, he never said anything bad about Witman’s abuse… he just took it.

Witman owned the local hotel and tavern. One evening during the winter of 1777-1778, two men came in to stay the night. Outspoken as always, Witman began expressing his loyalty to the British crown to his guests, without realizing they were American spies. Although he tried to escape by jumping out a window, Witman was captured and tried for treason before Gen. George Washington. He was sentenced to death on the gallows.

When Miller learned of Witman’s sentence, he grabbed his cane and walked sixty miles through the snow to Valley Forge, seeking a pardon for Witman from Washington. Washington told him that his friend would have to die.

“My friend!” said Miller. “I have not a worse enemy living than that man.”

Washington was stunned, changed his mind, and wrote out a pardon. Witman’s property would be confiscated, but his life would be spared. Miller hurried to West Chester, fifteen miles away, the site of Witman’s imminent execution.

Miller arrived as Witman was being led to the scaffold. When Witman saw him, he said, “There is old Peter Miller. He has walked all the way from Ephrata to have his revenge gratified today seeing me hung.”

He was wrong. Miller shouted out to stop the execution, waving the pardon document. Observers later reported that the two men embraced each other. The former enemies walked home to Ephrata as friends for the rest of their lives.

Miller understood the love of God.

God sent His Son into the world to die… while we were enemies. Unbelievable love… demonstrated forever as part of the Christmas Revolution!

Source for this story: Steinmetz, Hiram E. “Peter Miller – Michael Witman.” Historical Papers and Addresses of the Lancaster Historical Society VI.1 (1901): 46-49.

Editor’s Note: If you would like to obtain a single PDF file containing all 25 blogs in the “Counting Down to the Christmas Revolution” series, click here to download. May God richly bless your efforts to explore the revolutionary truth underlying the Christmas celebrations around the world.

Day 12: Counting Down to the Christmas Revolution

12For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.Romans 8:3-4

The real story at Mount Sinai was that God wanted to dwell among His people. Listen to how He describes His actions to the Exodus generation:

“You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.” – Exodus 19:4-5

He wants to be with us, but intimacy is costly: He requires that we obey (depend on) everything He says. Sounds simple enough. Receiving the Law at Sinai, God’s people believed for generations that they had everything they needed to please God. Although numerous prophets and psalmists knew better, generation after generation concluded wrongly that God was preoccupied with a solid, external effort to keep the Law. Like many people today, they believed that God was primarily interested in changing their behavior.

They couldn’t have been more mistaken. He wants to do far more than reform our behavior, He wants to recreate and capture out hearts.

As much as God loves us, His holiness requires us to reflect inner purity and moral perfection before we can draw near. So, the demands of the Law were not optional, but essential to intimacy.  The Law was also designed to show us what life looks like as God intended it to be lived. The Law is a reflection of what we should do and want… naturally. The Law is good. The problem is that we are not.

Paul said the Law was “weak through the flesh.” Although someone might conform outwardly to the Law, on the inside, in the heart, he remains a wide-eyed, self-centered rebel. You might avoid murder, but hate reigns in the heart. You might remain faithful to your spouse, but adulterous fantasies continue to cloud your mind. You might appear righteous, but you know on the inside that nothing is right.

Enter, once again, the Christmas Revolution!

Jesus was born “in the likeness of sinful flesh” but nothing inside Him was dark or wrong. He depended on the Father for everything. He was a walking demonstration of the Law, reflecting the Life that His Father had for each of us to live, but none of us could… or would.

The Gospel or good news is this: everything required for intimacy with the Father has been accomplished by Jesus, then credited to the ones who have placed their trust in the Son. I can approach God as freely as the Son He sent, when I lose myself into the life of the Son.

And there’s more! The “walk” of the believer is like the Son’s “walk“: an overflow of the activity of the Spirit within the heart. The Spirit enables a new way of life, prompting and empowering cooperating believers to become and to do everything God had envisioned for us in the Law.

In the seventeenth century, John Bunyan, Baptist pastor and author Pilgrim’s Progress penned these lines to describe this entirely new way of living:

“Run, John, run”
The law commands
But gives me neither feet nor hands
Tis better news the Gospel brings
It bids me fly
It gives me wings.

Have you found your wings? The Christmas Revolution… God sending His Son so our hearts could be transformed!

Editor’s Note: If you would like to obtain a single PDF file containing all 25 blogs in the “Counting Down to the Christmas Revolution” series, click here to download. May God richly bless your efforts to explore the revolutionary truth underlying the Christmas celebrations around the world.