The Christmas Objective
Words of Life!
Volume 2, Number 10, December 1991
A Publication Ministry of Word of Life Baptist Church
by Fred G. Zaspel
It is interesting each Christmas season to notice which issues are being raised and how some of them are being pushed in relation to the holiday itself. As I mentioned, for an increasing number of people the "evils" of the holiday are high on the list of enemies. Then there is the embarrassing problem of the homeless--especially heart-wrenching to see at this time of year. There are also the problems of drug abuse, violence, rampant immorality, corrupt government, poverty, racism, etc.
It is significant that these are the issues we are hearing most about, for Paul lived in a society full of evils also. Slavery, immorality, corrupt government--all in the extreme! I say it is significant that these are the issues uppermost in our minds, because Paul gave his life for one purpose--not to expose his wicked government, not to lead a crusade against racial oppression, and not to stage demonstrations at the capitols of the ancient world for any cause at all. He gave his entire life simply to tell sinful men the true story of Christmas--that Jesus had come to save sinners.
Yes, he denounced sin--particularly in the life of the church. And no, he never gave even tacit approval of any of the vices so rampant in his society. But he gave himself to deal with that which is uppermost in the mind of God, an issue which is basic to all others.
In 2 Corinthians 5:20 he pictures himself as a personal messenger from God Himself: "Now we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, be ye reconciled to God!" His goal in life was to tell all men of the saving work of Jesus Christ.
This, you see, is the issue to be raised at Christmas (and all year long!). "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). This is the whole import of Christmas: 1) Jesus has come, 2) He has come to save, and 3) He has come to save sinners.
With all the emphasis on faithfulness and duty which Christianity makes, it is nonetheless a sinner's religion. That is, it shows that all men are sinners and demands that they acknowledge such and so find salvation in Jesus Christ. "I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance," Jesus said. There it is again--Jesus came for sinners.
Aren't you glad for that? If God demanded of us that we prove our worthiness before he would save us, there would be no salvation for any of us. But if He assures us beforehand that He will freely accept us as we embrace Jesus Christ in full acknowledgment of our unworthiness, then we have hope indeed! This is precisely what the gospel offers.
Jesus said it three times over in Luke 15. The Pharisees were criticizing Him for eating with "sinners." They would never be seen doing such a thing! In response Jesus told a story of a shepherd in search of a lost sheep, a woman in search of a lost coin, and a father in glad reception of a returning wayward son. And there He stood in such stark contrast to the Pharisees. They shunned sinners. He came to find them and to save them!
And this is a wonderful thing! Have you considered your own sinfulness? Do you understand that by your sin you have alienated yourself from God? Do you realize that because of your sin you deserve eternal condemnation? Do you see that there is absolutely nothing you can do to remedy this awful condition? Do these thoughts bother you? Then Christmas has a special message for you! Jesus has come to save! To save whom? Sinners! Believing on Him--trusting your whole cause to His care--you will find forgiveness and acceptance with God. What God requires of you Jesus has done, and you may have a share in it only as you share in Him.
This is the issue we should raise at Christmas. If you like the various traditions, fine. If you don't, that's fine too. If you see other issues which need addressing, they may have their place. But this issue lies behind them all--Jesus Christ is the savior of sinners. Facing men with this issue is our duty--at Christmas and all our life long!