Fight for Joy! Blog
Where Jesus Changes Everything
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Every year about this time, political correctness reaches its annual pinnacle of stupidity. Is it a Christmas Tree Lighting or Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony? Should we say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? These questions, and others like them, are asked under the guise of not wanting to offend anyone. But the reality is the god of this world—the Devil—desires to remove any vestige of the Christ of the Bible from the public square—thus removing any thought of Him from the minds of men and women everywhere. When it comes to what I believe, I try not to worry too much about offending others. As I tactfully informed a friend recently, “What I believe is what I believe and I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it!” At the height of what I believe is Scripture’s most profound reality. Christians call it Christmas, theologians call it the Incarnation but the Bible simply says, “And the Word became flesh.” These are simple words but their meaning is profound. John MacArthur says these words indicate “that the infinite became finite; the Eternal was conformed to time; the Invisible became visible; the supernatural One reduced Himself to the natural.” This means the second person of the Godhead—the Lord Jesus Christ—also known as the Son, and here the Word, “became flesh.” In other words, Jesus did not cease to be God but became God in human flesh—two natures, the Divine and human, joined together (not mixed) as one person—undiminished deity in human form. The human mind simply cannot wrap itself around such an amazing truth! Think about it. The Creator became the created. This miraculous event happened when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary. This has always boggled my mind, the reason being, Mary was a sinner in need of salvation just as you and I are. Yet, the sinless Son of God allowed Himself to be conceived within her womb.
Christmas is Scripture’s most profound reality. It lays the foundation for the entire Gospel message, the rejection of which results in eternal damnation. One must believe the truth about Jesus—who He is and what He accomplished. Any belief system that departs from this very basic yet profound reality is heretical in nature. This would include Docetism, which teaches that Jesus was a divine being that took on human appearance but not flesh (see 1 John 4:2). It includes Areianism, a teaching which states that Christ was a created being (sounds a lot like the Watchtower doesn’t it?). It includes Nestorianism, which says that the Son of God and the man, Jesus, shared the same body but retained two separate natures. And finally, it includes Oneness Pentecostalism which teaches that there is one God, a singular spirit who manifests Himself in many different ways, including as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This stands in sharp contrast to the biblical doctrine of the three distinct and eternal "persons" of the Triune God. Indeed, Christmas is much more than the giving of gifts, discussions about tree lighting ceremonies or greetings. It is the direct intervention into human history by the Creator of history Himself—God “became flesh, and dwelt among us,” in the person of Jesus Christ. Try and wrap your mind around that!
Christmas teaches us that God came once to this earth. But it also assures us that He “will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him” (Heb. 9:28). When Christ appears at His second coming, it will be confirmation that the Father has been fully satisfied with His sacrifice on behalf of all believers. As we approach another Christmas season, all indications are Christ’s return for His Church is very near. He is coming a “second time.” He came once to pay your and my sin debt in full. He came once to provide for the forgiveness of your sins and mine. He is coming again—soon, very soon—to snatch away all those who have, by faith, placed their trust in Him for the forgiveness of their sins. As far as it concerns you, what will you celebrate in the days ahead—holidays or Christmas? Will you celebrate Scripture’s most profound reality or get caught up in the stupidity of political correctness, all of which is designed by Satan to draw men’s hearts away from the truth and further into the bondage of sin leading to eternal damnation? “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Heb. 2:3)
“Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:5-6). Words are the primary way we communicate to each other. Each time we open our mouths to speak to someone, whether to an individual or a group, we convey our thoughts, feelings, emotions, intentions, and attitudes. We do this not only by what we say but also how we say it. Words are a powerful force. It’s no wonder James wrote, “The tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire” (James 3:5). Whether we realize it or not, others—unbelievers especially—are watching, even listening to us to see if we truly live out that which we say we believe. This is why Paul wrote, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders.” For this reason, he says, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt.” This means we are to speak only what is spiritual, wholesome, fitting, kind, sensitive, complimentary, gentle, truthful, loving, and thoughtful. Our speech should result in God being glorified and others being blessed. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
I will be the first to admit that my speech is not always gracious. This would include speech in my head before it ever reaches my tongue. It is a constant struggle. It is part of the “good fight of faith” that Paul wrote about to young Timothy (see 1 Tim. 6:12). It is the primary reason the Bible repeatedly reminds us of the importance of holding the tongue before speaking. Psalm 39:1 says, “I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue. I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle while the wicked are in my presence.” Sounds a lot like Colossians 4:5-6, doesn’t it? I was recently reminded of this ongoing struggle when I learned of some unnecessary and unkind words that were said about me by a fellow believer. My first reaction was “speech in my head” that was neither gracious nor edifying. This response, although natural, was clearly sinful on my part, as even our thought life is to honor Christ. But my second response I would like to think was a little more righteous. It was a two-fold response. I was angry because the words that were said were said in the company of people that included those Paul would describe as “outsiders.” Such speech sets a very poor example for those outside the body of Christ. But I was also reminded of Paul’s words to the Corinthian believers, “Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?” (1 Cor. 6:7) His point is clear—forgive, forget, and move on. And, based on Colossians 4:3, we might add an additional point—pray. Paul writes, “Praying at the same time for us as well, […], so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ.” Based on all that the Bible says about speech, I have concluded the purpose for Christian speech is threefold: (1) to edify others, (2) to praise God, and (3) to proclaim the Gospel. If what we say or think about saying doesn’t fall within the purview of those three statements, then it’s best to keep our mouths shut. That’s good advice for us all!
An Eighth Century Irish proverb says, “A person should not speak evil of, or harshly reproach another, nor should he put anyone to the blush. Never should he violently rebuke anyone or carry on a conversation with a boorish person, and his speech at all times should be noted for his lack of boastfulness.” That’s just another way of saying, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” The Lord is going to return soon for His Church. There are a lot of outsiders, all of whom will be left behind to face the terrors of God’s wrath. I would hate to think that my speech might be the reason some of these “outsiders” ultimately choose to turn a deaf ear to the Gospel message. Therefore, may our speech be edifying and Christ-honoring, so that it may serve to advance the Gospel to those who are outside the body of Christ. “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29). Let all of us who name the name of Christ determine to always speak with grace as together, we “fight the good fight of faith.”
“And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate”(Daniel 9:27). Will a third Jewish Temple be built on the most volatile 35 acres in the world—the Temple Mount in Jerusalem? Many say no but the Bible says yes. Daniel wrote about it. Paul referred to it in his second letter to the Thessalonians (2 Thess. 2:4). John wrote about it in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 11). Even Jesus mentioned it in His Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24). With such a preponderancy of evidence from the Scriptures, it amazes me the number of so called scholars and other Christian leaders who flatly deny the Jewish Temple will ever be rebuilt. That aside, it is being reported that Jewish Sanhedrin rabbis have been meeting with a Turkish Muslim leader on this very subject. If these reports are true (and I have no reason to doubt their veracity), this is an astounding development, indeed, an unprecedented one. But it’s not surprising as this is what the Bible calls for in the last days just prior to the return of Christ.
I believe it is very possible and highly probable that the “firm covenant” that Daniel speaks of will include some type of guarantee and plan for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple. The Muslim leader in question says, "The Palace of Solomon is a historically important palace and rebuilding it would be a very wonderful thing. It is something that any Jew, a Christian or a Muslim should welcome with enthusiasm. Every Muslim, every believer will want to return to those days, to experience those days again and, albeit partially, to bring the beauty of those days back to life." He goes on to say that the Temple of Solomon "will be rebuilt and all believers will worship there in tranquility." During his meeting with the Sanhedrin Rabbis, he expressed his belief that the Temple could be rebuilt in one year: "It could be done in a year at most. It could be built to the same perfection and beauty. The Torah says it was built in 13 years, if I remember correctly. It could be rebuilt in a year in its perfect form." Now you might rightly be wondering how in the world a third Jewish Temple could ever be erected on the Temple Mount today—a spot of land occupied and administered by Islamic militants who have said over and over again there was never a Jewish Temple located there—all evidence to the contrary. It may take many twists and turns but the Bible does seem to indicate a Jewish Temple existing side-by-side with the Dome of the Rock. John wrote, “Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, ‘Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months” (Rev. 11:1-2). WorldNetDaily®, whose news article was my primary source for this article reports, “The Interfaith Encounter Association is working on a project called "God's Holy Mountain." It sees the day when the rebuilt Jewish Temple will exist side by side with the Dome of the Rock.” This is utterly amazing considering what the Bible prophesies for the last days. But it makes complete sense, particularly when you consider the call of certain world leaders for the internationalization of the city of Jerusalem and the overwhelming majority of Jews who want to see the Temple rebuilt.
The Bible says that a shrewd and calculating political leader will arise in the last days speaking flatteries who will “make a firm covenant” with Israel and her enemies. This covenant will surely include a provision for rebuilding the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount. All indications are we are a lot closer to that reality than most Christians realize or are even willing to believe. The question is will its construction begin before or after the Rapture of the Church? Only God knows the answer to that question. Therefore, I suggest we all focus on another question—are you ready? If Christ returned for His Church today, would you be ready? “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16-17).
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You are welcome to leave comments and you don't have to necessarily agree with me. However, I expect a civil tone and charitable spirit. We can disagree with one another without being disagreeable. "Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt." (Colossians 4:6)
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