Sunday, December 20, 2009

TEACH RELIGION? NO, PREACH CHRIST! -- Devotional for December 20, from "Good Seeds"

He was in the world, the world He made, and yet it did not know Him. He came to His own people, but they didn’t want Him. But whoever does want Him, and believes Him to be who He claims to be, He will transform them into their true selves, what He intended them to be from the beginning – His children. (John 1:10-12).

The title of a beautiful old Christmas spiritual identifies the central figure of all history at His entrance into the human family as “Sweet Little Jesus Boy,” but then it goes on to shamefully admit mankind’s ignorance of Him when it says, “We didn’t know who You was.” People have debated the character of the Christ since the days when His coming was first prophesied back at the dawn of civilization in the Garden of Eden, when God said to Satan, “I will put enmity between your seed and the seed of the woman. He shall crush your head; you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15). But just who is this seed of the woman? The Bible teaches that God, though one, is present in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all of whom were present and active at creation. The God who “in the beginning created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1) is this triune God. John speaks of the role of the Son – whom he called “The Word” – in that creative process: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, creating the world, for this Word was God” (John 1:1-3). The false belief called Deism teaches that though there is a Creator God, He remains hidden and distant from mankind. Deism may teach God’s transcendence, but the Bible reveals His immanence: though God is altogether “other” than man, He desires very much to be known and loved by His creatures, so He made a plan to come and live among us for a time. But it wasn’t merely for a friendly visit. In fact, that would be impossible, for since the inception of sin there was, as prophesied, no friendship between God and man, only enmity and animosity. And so, God’s Son came into the world, not as an ethereal spirit but as a human baby – in the form of a man so that men could know Him. But the bond of friendship between God and man didn’t happen for most people – not then, and not now. People still don’t know who He is. As the spiritual goes on to say: “Didn’t know You came to save us, Lord, to take our sins away. Our eyes was blind, we could not see. We didn’t know Who You was.” What is the cause of this spiritual blindness? Paul speaks of a veil that remains over people’s eyes, which causes hardened hearts. The teaching of the tenants of religion cannot remove the veil. Only one thing can penetrate hard hearts: the preaching of the person of Christ, for “Whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is lifted” (II Corinthians 3:14-16).

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