After Christmas, What Next?

StainGlassColorful636363-35A few days ago, the birth of Christ was celebrated across the world by Christians and in some cases non-Christians. The story of His birth is the most unsual event to have happened in human history. The Bible records these events and also expound with clarity the reason for Jesus’ birth in Matthew 1:18-23 and other places in Scripture.

A virgin called Mary was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before they consummated their marriage, Mary was found pregnant “with child from the Holy Spirit.”(v18). Joseph, caught in a dilemma, reflects how to end the relationship. However, at night, in his sleep, an angel appeared to Him in a dream saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”(v20-21).

We see explicitly stated, the reason Jesus Christ came into the world:

To “save his people from their sins”.

This is the overarching theme of Holy Scripture. From Genesis to Revelation; all God is doing in the world through Christ is the salvation of His people. (2Corinthians 5:19). The birth of Jesus was not arbitrary. It was planned before the foundation of the earth (1Peter 1:20). Jesus’ birth was not an afterthought of God. It was prophesied, announced and spoken of long before He was born. Matthew tells us that “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet ”(Matthew 1: 22). What is Matthew talking about? In the next verse He quotes Isaiah 7:14, saying “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”(Matthew 1:23).

Christ is the promised Messiah who was spoken of through the prophets to deliver humankind from the effects of sin. When Adam disobeyed God, his fall (disobedience) passed on the ramifications of death– physical and spiritual– to all of humanity. He was our federal head. And in his fall, we were all declared sinners. This sin, alienated us from God. It rendered us helpless and unable to be right with God on our own. These are facts of the gospel and in a season of celebrations, it is possible to lose sight of what the season actually stands for. The season can pass without any lasting impact.

Now, the Christmas story of the birth of Christ has implications both for the believer and the unbeliever alike. The difference between eternal life and eternal damnation rests on what we do with the facts revealed in Scripture about the life of Christ. There is no middle ground. Either we believe and accept what the Scripture says, or we spurn it. But whatever we do with the truth about Christ, eternity hangs in the balance.

Bearing this in mind, it is pivotal therefore, to pause and ponder our lives after the euphoria of the season has died out.

The Unbeliever Must Turn To Christ In Faith For Salvation

That Jesus was born, lived a perfect life without sin, was crucified, buried, resurrected the third day, ascended into heaven and will come back again to judge the world has dire eternal consequences for those who don’t believe in Him and are not submitted to His Lordship: “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.(John 3:18). Because Christ came to save sinners, it is of utmost importance that sinners turn to Him in faith. R.C. Sproul rightly said:

The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.

The Believer Must Continue In Christ In Faith For Salvation

It is not enough to profess Christianity. If we have come to saving faith through Christ Jesus, we must have fruits to show for it. James rightly said “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  (James 1:22). Beyond the celebrations, we must grow in grace and bear fruits. Again, James said “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead”( James 2:17). The Christian is saved by grace alone through faith alone. But it must be clearly stated that true faith shows in good works. Indeed, that is what we have been created for; “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”(Ephesians 2:10).

Any Christian belief we hold that is inconsistent with our way of life must be examined. Of course, I am not preaching sinless perfection. But there must be evidence of the outworkings of the Spirit of God in our hearts. If we are lacking in progressive sanctification, we might have to pause and check our hearts.

Whoever you are–believer or unbeliever– let this passing season leave a lasting impression on your heart.

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