The Last Christmas?
Whether you’re following commentaries by prophecy scholars on the nearness of the rapture or predictions by financial experts on the nearness of the world’s economic downfall, the message is the same. This could very well be the last time we celebrate Christmas as we’ve come to know it.
And that’s a good thing. Because for most of the world, Christmas has become little more than an annual exercise in spending money we don’t have to buy things they don’t need for the people on our list, some of whom we don’t even like. Add to that the sad fact that millions of American families are doing this from homes they no longer own, adding to a debt load they can hardly carry now, and you can see the level to which the world has sunk. And the saddest fact of all is they aren’t doing this out of any gratitude for what the Lord has given them. They’re doing this because for a brief period of time they can pretend everything’s OK.
For believers it should be a different story, although most of us are totally unaware that the greatest event in Church history is looming on our horizon. The coming rapture should be energizing the body of Christ and causing a massive reorientation of our priorities and yet current polls indicate that over 90% of us are still focused on the secular world and the fading illusion of happiness it offers, rather than the incredible promises of the Bible.
Maybe that’s because what little we’ve been taught about the Lord’s promise to the Church is such a watered down version of the truth. Pastors and teachers have lowered our expectations of His promises to match our experience instead of teaching us that if our experience doesn’t match His promises then we’re doing something wrong. And because we don’t read our Bibles to learn what it says about Christian life here on Earth for ourselves, these promises simply have not come true for most. And as for His promises about our future with Him, well they’re hardly even mentioned anymore.
What Did You Get For Christmas?
With a little study we can conclude that the Lord was not born on December 25th, but more likely in the early fall. Therefore our celebration in December is more traditional than factual. But since it is the time we’ve chosen to celebrate, let’s take a moment to review what the birth of the Lord really means to us. This won’t be an exhaustive list but maybe it will help us remember what Christmas is really about. Think of it as as the gift He gave us for Christmas.
First and foremost, He came to take away our sins. Just for believing that, we’ve been promised that the penalty of eternal suffering we deserve to pay has been canceled (Colossians 2:13-14) and replaced by eternal blessing in the presence of God (John 3:16).
Because He suffered in our place, we’ve been made forever perfect in God’s sight (Hebrews 10:14) , a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) as righteous as He is (2 Cor. 5:21). The law of sin and death no longer has any claim on us (Romans 8:2).
That alone should make us jump for joy, but that’s not all He did. He came to take away our worries too. He promised that if we believe in Him, we’ll be adopted into the family of God (John 1:12-13) and made joint heirs with him in His inheritance (Galatians 4:4-7).
If we’ll just focus on seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness, which is now our eternal destiny, He’ll provide for all our needs in the here and now. We should never worry about what we’ll eat or drink or wear because He promised our needs will always be met (Matt. 6:31-33).
But more than just meeting our survival needs, He came to give us an abundant life (John 10:10). He promised to make everything work together for our good (Romans 8:28) and that nothing could ever separate us from Him (Romans 8:38-39 and John 10:27-30).
Although He was rich He made Himself poor for our sakes, so that through His poverty we could become rich (2 Cor. 8:9). But He wasn’t speaking only of spiritual wealth. He promised that we could be made rich in every way so we could be generous on every occasion (2 Cor. 9:11) while we’re still here. The more generous we are toward others, the more generous He’ll be toward us (Luke 6:38).
He came to give us hope in times of trouble (John 16:33) and told us to not be so concerned about this life because it’s only temporary. It’s the next life that’s permanent and that’s the one we should always be thinking about (2 Cor. 4:17-18).
He promised to answer our prayers (John 14:13-14) forgive our sins (1 John 1:9) and heal our diseases (James 5:14-15).
He promised that if we stay connected to Him we’ll bear much fruit (John 15:7-8) and will perform miracles even greater than His. He said the only limitation on the things we could do in His name would be our faith in His promises (John 14:12).
But Wait, There’s More!
All these things are just for this life. But He also came to give us a future that’s beyond imagining (1 Cor 2:9).
He promised to rescue us from the time and place of the coming wrath (1 Thes. 1:10), to separate us both by time and distance from the hour of trial that’s coming upon the whole world (Rev. 3:10).
To accomplish this, He promised to meet us in the air (1 Thes. 4:16-17), to change us from mortal to immortal (1 Cor. 15:52-53) and take us to His Father’s house (John 14:2-3) where He’ll hide us from God’s judgment of Earth (Isaiah 26:20-21).
He promised to make us into a royal priesthood (1 peter 2:9), kings and priests who will rule and reign with Him (Rev. 5:10), and to create an entire planet made of gold and precious gems as our exclusive dwelling place. We’ll live with Him there as members of his royal family (Rev. 21:9-27).
We’ll be seated beside Him in the heavenly realms so that by what He’s done for us he can demonstrate the incomparable riches of His grace in ages yet to come (Ephesians 2:6-7). No other group of humanity ever has or ever will enjoy the blessings He’s lavished on the Church.
From the moment of His birth, these and many more promises began to come true for those who believe. It was such a momentous occasion that God dispatched a heavenly choir to announce His arrival on Earth. Hundreds of Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled to confirm the validity of His promises. All this and more is ours to a greater degree of certainty than anything else in our life. It’s the the gift He gave us at Christmas. Selah 12-03-11