Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas, what a great idea!

I love Christmas, I love the presents, I love the turkey dinner, I love spending time with family and friends but most of all I love that it is about God's love. John tells us that God so loved the world that He sent His one and Only Son into the world so that whoever believes on the Son shall have eternal life. The Son came because God loves us, that is awesome! I love that at the centre of Christmas is Jesus, the Christ. I love that no man thought up Christmas, it was God's idea. In Genesis, while Adam is still hiding in a bush God comes looking for him. Whilst He comes in judgement He also comes in mercy. The serpent is told that the seed of the woman shall crush Satan's head. That Satan's handiwork would be crushed through the one born of a woman. Later in Genesis, God calls Abraham from paganism, God's idea! He tells him that his seed would be a blessing to all nations. By the end of Genesis we know that this seed will not only be a descendant of Abraham but that he will be of the tribe of Judah.

Luke chapter 2 tells us of a bunch of shepherds. Shepherds in the C1st were not known for their piety, actually it was quite the opposite. They were regarded as the scum of the earth. While people were waiting for the Messiah in those days, these shepherds were not waiting. They were not likely to have been in a prayer meeting when the Angel showed up. The appearing caught them totally off guard. Maybe moments before they showed up they were drinking and swearing, laughing and mocking each other. These were tough rough guys. Yet they were the first to hear the message of the gospel. Good news of great joy. A Saviour has been born who is Christ the LORD.


Our greatest need is not reformation but transformation. Our greatest need is for the damage of sin and the curse of death through Adam's sin and our own to be removed from us. Jesus came to crush the head of the serpent. It is fitting that this message was given to Shepherds because He had come as the good Shepherd to lay down His life for the sheep. He was also the spotless lamb who John the Baptist said "would take away the sins of the world." He came to save us and to live a perfect life, the life that we should live, and then to die in our place.


It is amazing that the word the Angel used according to Luke is Christ not Messiah because that is a message in itself. Good news for all people. While some Jews were waiting for the Messiah not many Gentiles were anticipating the coming of the Messiah. Yet Luke (a Gentile?) writes to tell us that the Angel said good news for all people, Christ has come. David was described as the LORD's anointed or Christ but David had much blood on his hands, he was a sinner, at the end of his life he bows his head in shame and points away from himself to another yet to come. This is true of every King, every High Priest and every prophet. Throughout the OLD Testament there are types of the Messiah to come but they are mere shadows. Jesus is not the LORD's anointed like David, He is the Anointed LORD, fully man and fully God. A mediator between God and man to bring about reconciliation to mankind.


Luke starts chapter 2 with Augustus, master of all he sees, ruler of the greatest empire at that time. Caesar Augustus was regarded as LORD and as a god. The chapter moves on to tell us of the baby born to a lowly peasant woman and placed not in a palace but an animal feeding trough. Yet the Angel tells us that this baby, not a baby born in Rome, is the LORD, and by this he means LORD God. Paul tells us in Colossians that all things were made through Jesus, through Him and For Him. He is LORD of the universe and the Christmas message is that this God, the creator and sustainer walked amongst us, that God became a missionary to restore a lost world to Himself and that is extremely good news. That is why I love Christmas because it was God's idea.

Merry Christmas

Stephen <><

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Calvin on the gift of salvation

I read this succinct comment from Calvin, in Joel Beeke's 365 Days with Calvin this morning.
'Faith is purely a gift from God, so people may not praise themselves for having come to the light of the gospel, in which they have found happiness and salvation. Instead, they ought to glorify God, for they are indebted to him for choosing and calling them to salvation. '
Salvation from a Calvinist perspective is completely a work of God, God working with one energy monergism, or as some people put it one handed salvation. When we consider that salvation is all of God and that the only thing we contribute is our need and our sin then God gets all the praise.
Glory to God in the highest!
Stephen <><