Here’s another note, I know I’ve been posting a lot recently, but oh well.
I just got done watching a televised broadcast of a preacher’s sermon on the “Purpose of Christmas.” I had a few thoughts about it as I watched and I wanted to share them here. My “purpose” in sharing these things is not to tear anyone down, but rather to show people things that were not communicated in the sermon, things that they may be unaware of or may not consider otherwise.
The Purpose of Christmas, according to the sermon, is threefold:
1. Celebration of Christ’s birth
2. Salvation for all
3. Reconciliation with God and others
a. “God is not mad at you, He’s mad about you.”
b. “It doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Hindu, Baptist, Jewish, God loves you.”
c. “Jesus came to save, not to condemn”
These are all quotes for reasons we have to celebrate Christ’s birth.
a. Apparently that tv show that always used to play on channel 12 at 10 o’clock “Mad About You” is an analogy for what God is like. God is played by Paul Reisner and we are played by Helen Hunt, or maybe its the other way around, I’m not sure. Really, according to the preacher, history is a non-stop romantic comedy about God continually pursuing the people he’s mad about while the world continually rejects Him. As the preacher said “God says ‘There’s never been a day that I didn’t love you and I just want you to love me back.”
What are we to make of the following verses (from the New Testament only, not even considering the Old Testament):
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the WRATH of God REMAINS on him.” John 3:36
“For the WRATH of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Romans 1:18
“But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works… There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,” Romans 2:5-6,9
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.�? Romans 12:19
“But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.” Romans 13:4-5
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Ephesians 2:1-3
“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” Ephesians 5:6
“Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?�? Rev. 6:15-17
“So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.” Rev. 14:19-20
I will stop here, though there is plenty more scripture to quote from. Is God a nagging admirer, longing for your love (the preacher also said that the reason God created the world is so that He could love us – the Bible teaches that it was to display his glory)? Or is God a righteous judge sitting on His throne?
b. The preacher here is getting very confusing for anyone who does not already have a clear understanding of scripture. For anyone who has never heard the true Gospel before, it would sound to them like the preacher is teaching pluralism. He did not say that it doesn’t matter if you’re white, black, yellow, red, male, female, young, old (meaning Jesus came to save all types of people), he said that God doesn’t care if you worship another god (practice another religion). I hope I don’t have to quote scripture for you to know that is unbiblical.
c. Jesus did not come to condemn comes from John 3:17. The preacher said that he himself is not here to condemn anyone because neither was Jesus. Let’s look a little deeper at John 3:
v16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. v17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. 18 Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe IS CONDEMNED ALREADY, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment (YES THERE IS A JUDGMENT): the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.”
If I did not know anything about Christianity, and the first thing I heard was the preacher speaking tonight on my tv, what would I know? I would know that God loves me and doesn’t want to condemn me. But is this what the Bible teaches, and is this what people need to know?
v17 clearly says that Jesus was not sent to condemn… but does that mean that none of us are condemned? No, v18 clearly says that we are all condemned already, before Jesus was sent. God can judge us from above, He need not enter the world to find us guilty of breaking his law (law? what is that? no – it’s not negative feelings). However, Jesus did need to enter the world to save us from damnation (Rom. 3:21-26, 5:6-11), for only through Him are we saved, but by ourselves we are condemned.
The second purpose of Christmas, according to the preacher, is salvation.
I. We are saved from sin
The preacher defined sin as our past, our guilt, and our fear. He also said that sin is saying you know better than God what will make you happy and that this attitude separates us from God and is the source of all our problems. He said that we are saved from our “negative emotions” because God did not intend for us to have “negative emotions.” And Jesus wants to save you from your addictions too.
This is simply self-help psychology for people who aren’t happy. If you have negative emotions, just ask Jesus into your heart and you won’t have any negative emotions anymore. Yes, many of these problems are a result of sin, but “negative emotions” are not sin.
As quoted extensively above, we are under the wrath of God for breaking His LAW (Rom. 1). Namely, the Ten Commandments:
And God spoke all these words, saying,
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
“You shall not murder.
“You shall not commit adultery.
“You shall not steal.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.�?
Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.�? Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.�?
The preacher never, ever mentioned anything about a law or about anyone being guilty of disobeying a law. The closest he came was to say that Christ saves us from guilt, but he was merely talking about guilt as a negative emotion.
The Biblical PURPOSE of CHRIST: “and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thessalonians 1:10
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.'” Galatians 3:13
“God put Christ forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forebearance he had passed over former sins.” Romans 3:25
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10
In the words of John Piper: “If God were not just, there would be no demand for his Son to suffer and die. And if God were not loving, there would be no willingness for his Son to suffer and die. But God is both just and loving. Therefore his love is willing to meet the demands of his justice.”
this taken from his book “The Passion of Jesus Christ: Fifty Reasons Why He Came to Die” which you can get for $0.01 on amazon http://www.amazon.com/Passion-Jesus-Christ-Fifty-Reasons/dp/1581346085/sr=8-1/qid=1167033285/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/105-8614554-4828458?ie=UTF8&s=books if you really want to know the purpose of Christmas.
The purpose of Christmas is reconciliation so that we can be
a. at peace with God
b. have peace in God
c. have peace with eachother
The preacher said that going our own way puts us at war with God. This is true, though not fully explained. The solution, however, is to have faith in Christ, by choosing Him and accepting His open invitation and to start following God’s way and His purpose for our life.
But this began to raise a question in my mind, one that I’m sure plenty of people watching had:
Why do I need Christ to do that? I can see that it would be good to start finding God’s purpose for my life, that way I can quit drinking and I can get rid of these negative emotions, but I don’t really understand who Christ is or what part He plays in all of this. I thought this message was about the purpose of Christ, but it seems to be all about me feeling better, after all, that’s why God created the world.
This ultimately is the most unfortunate part of the sermon. The preacher was given a global audience, the potential to speak to millions of people, and proclaim the Gospel. After listening for 30 minutes, I understand that God loves me and that I can be happy if I find His purpose for me, but I don’t understand who Jesus is or why He came to the world… I thought that was the intention of the sermon “The Purpose of Christmas.”
several of my posts are copied over from facebook. below are the comments posted there: