Isaiah 9: 6-7, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, even forever.”
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the Savior of mankind. We observe Jesus’ birth in so many ways around the world. We decorate with lights that represent Jesus as the light of the world. We celebrate by giving because Jesus was the greatest gift ever given to man. The triangular shaped tree represents the triune God, the green symbolizes life and red is because of His blood being shed for all mankind.
This birth is so very significant because the world was changed in many ways. Salvation was changed from works to grace and mercy (John 1: 17) by our belief in Him. A new world religion was begun that ultimately became the one with the largest number of members.
Some Bible scholars believe there are as many as 300 prophesies about the coming of Jesus in the Old Testament. Throughout the Old Testament, in one printer’s edition of the King James Bible, several verses are marked with a star. Those verses are recognized as prophesies of the coming of a Messiah.
The first verse in the Bible marked with a star is Genesis 3: 15, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; you will strike his heel and he will crush your head.”
Can we visualize Jesus walking along and this irritating, but consistent, little snake striking at His heel? Finally 4,000 years after He created mankind on the sixth day (Genesis 1: 27-31, John 1: 3), God-Jesus came to Earth in the form of a man and offered Himself as a living, blood sacrifice for the sins of all mankind (Hebrews 9: 22).
At that point in time, Jesus placed His heel on the head of the serpent and crushed his head. Our Jesus did this by sacrificing His life on the cross, then in three days walking out of the tomb, resurrected and alive! His resurrection destroyed the concept of sin for the believer until the end of the age.
Satan’s head was crushed and he no longer had dominion over human weakness and frailty. We are all victims to our greatest enemy, the flesh. Satan used that weakness as a vulnerable point of access. Our belief in the resurrection of Jesus cements our spiritual existence to eternal life and destroys Satan’s power over us.
The coming of a Savior was foretold throughout the Torah/Old Testament. It was a certainty to the Old Testament Jew, but when Jesus came, they rejected Him. They knew He was coming, but they surely had no idea He would change salvation by works to salvation by grace and mercy through our belief.
Our perfect Jesus changed the world as no other person has ever done or ever will do, except when He returns. The Bible clearly states He will return (Acts 1: 11); then and only then will a comparable change be seen.
Jesus introduced the world to such concepts as faith, trust and hope. Before Jesus, there was no need for faith from a religious perspective because salvation was based on what the people did and not what the Savior did or would do. As in today’s secular world, trust was meaningless, and hope was only about survival.
Because of Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection, we have a hope no other people in the history of the world have had. Several world religions attach themselves to the Ten Commandments, but fail to confirm the existence of the Creator God of Genesis in the Holy Bible and the Savior of all mankind.
John 3: 17, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” This verse doesn’t completely (but mostly) initiate a new religion, but implies a different approach to eternal security.
The fundamental of the gospel has been made clear by Jesus and the New Testament writers. Salvation is by a faith-based belief that Christ Jesus was crucified for the remission of sin and resurrected from the dead. He became victorious over death and promises us that we also can have that hope and assurance.
Jesus also provided mankind with a freedom not previously known. That freedom is because forgiveness of sin can be had by grace and mercy and not by works. Paul referred to “the yoke of the law” referring to the Old Testament laws of Moses.
Acts 15: 10-11, “Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved.” Peter was justifying and qualifying his argument for faith and trust in the Lord Jesus to those demanding circumcision for salvation.
Luke wrote this statement by Peter to clarify the distinction between then and now. Previously, they lived under this yoke (restraining neck collar) of the Old Testament law, but now, with Jesus, they had freedom from that yoke because of the unmerited favor (mercy) of God.
In today’s world, many regard three major religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. The classifying of Judaism is probably based on its longevity and tenacity, and Islam and Christianity on the number of claimants.
Many religions exist in the world; one estimate is 4,000. Even within the denominations designated as Christian, differences of thought and opinion are found in extreme variance.
Biblically speaking, there is only one church and that is the church Jesus designated in Matthew 16: 18, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail over it.”
All believer-followers of the Lord Jesus are members of this one and only church. The differences that divide Christianity into various denominations have nothing to do with our eternal destination. Many see the differences as trivial, but some seem intent into making them an issue.
At Christmastime, we mostly think of the birth of a baby that grew up to be our Savior. That, of course, is well and good. But so much more was born on that day. HE, of course is what the day and the season is all about, but HE changed humanity in ways not before even considered.
It is estimated there are over 2.5 billion Christians in the world. This is about one-third of the world’s population. This, as a religion, appears to be the largest number of any religion. Who could have imagined, 2,023 years ago in that stable in Bethlehem, a little baby lying in a manger would change the world as He did?
Christianity was a new religion in the world. Anything new is, at times, difficult to promote. The Apostles took this new religion to Asia and Europe, but it was mostly dormant until several centuries later. Essentially, on Dec. 25, we celebrate the birth of a Savior, but also the birth of a new religion and a new way of life.
Luke 1: 35, “And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.’ ”
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