A Christmas Epiphany

December 20, 2011

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ …”  (Titus 2:11-13)

In these words of Paul to one of his pastors he is giving us a wonderful theological description of Christmas.  Paul writes of the appearing (epiphany) of the grace of God that brings salvation.  That is what happened on that first Christmas Eve.  He then writes of the glorious appearing (epiphany) of Jesus Christ in the Christmas that shall be.  He also calls that epiphany “the blessed hope.”

Then he writes of a third epiphany that shows us the purpose of that first Christmas Eve.  It also shows us our motivation for looking forward to the blessed hope of that epiphany to come.  He is writing of the appearing (epiphany) of God right now to this present age through the righteous and godly living of people who believe in all three of these epiphanies.

He goes on to write of God’s purpose in all this by explaining that God wanted to redeem for Himself a unique people who would be His own peculiar – in the sense of unique – people in this world.  This describes and summarizes the Christmas that was, that shall be, and that is right now.

The people who were involved in the Christmas that was were mostly holy and godly people.  Paul is writing here that those who are involved in the Christmas that is right now are people who are living soberly, righteously and godly lives.  Are you one of those peculiar people who are the epiphany that is?  By faith you can be.

 


Unbelief That Shuts Our Mouth

December 2, 2011

“But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born.” (Luke 1:20)

A teenager once asked me this thoughtful question about Christmas:  “Since there was so much hype about the birth of Jesus Christ, why is it that thirty years later nobody seemed to believe in Him?  You would think everyone would have just been waiting for Him to begin His ministry!”

Actually, there were only a handful of people who knew about that first Christmas.  The first one to know was a priest named Zechariah.  He and his wife Elizabeth were godly people, very advanced in years.  They had no children and the angel Gabriel told Zechariah that he and his wife were going to have a child who would be the last of the prophets to tell us about the coming of the Messiah.  Their son, whom they were to call John, would actually point at Christ and introduce Him to this world.

Zechariah did not believe the angel.  He was therefore told that everything he had heard was going to happen, but he would be smitten mute and not be able to tell anyone until his child was born.  This priest had the greatest sermon to preach that any priest ever had.  God was going to intersect human history!  But he could not preach it because of his unbelief.

Before you are too hard on Zechariah, let me ask you a question.  The New Testament tells us more than three hundred times that God is going to intersect human history a second time when Jesus Christ comes back again.  Have you ever told anybody about that Christmas to be?

 Or does your unbelief shut your mouth?