Buried in the scene in the manger, that many of us adore, lies your eternal future and a possibility of an unending joy and belonging to this promise forever. The birth of Jesus had a different beginning than our birth. This birth did not begin with a father and a mother as is the case with us. Mary, a virgin, was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Joseph, her husband, had nothing to do with it. This conception was an act of God, a miracle that made it possible for Jesus to remain spotless from sin.
The conception was not the event when Jesus Christ became the first only begotten Son. God connected Himself to flesh, a human male, to become the one time offering for all the sins of the world by shedding His blood. God, being a Spirit, came in the physical body of Jesus. God begat Jesus Christ as the first and only begotten Son when He was identified and baptized by John the Baptist, expecting to begat many more sons and daughters through Jesus Christ.
"The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." "John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, `This was He of whom I said, He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me (John is stating: He was God before John the Baptist came into existence).' From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another." (John 1:14-16 NIV)
"God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children (pointing to Israel's fathers which now also includes Gentiles), in that he hath raised up Jesus again (after he was crucified to become a sign that death had been overcome and eternal life is a reality); as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee." (Acts 13:33)
Speaking of this event when Jesus began His ministry: "No-one takes this honour upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was (the priest from which the priesthood flowed in the Old Testament). So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, `You are my Son; today I have become your Father.'"(Hebrews 5:4,5 NIV)
"From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses (people had to perform and earn their merits from God by trying to live a sinfree life without help); grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No-one has ever seen God, but God the One and [the] Only [Son], who is at the Father's side, has made him known." (John 1:16-18 NIV)
Grace comes from the Greek word `Charis' meaning joy, favor, acceptance, a kindness granted without expectation of return; absolute freeness of the loving-kindness of God to men and women. `Charis' stands in direct opposition to works (the Old Testament Law). There is no sin in the spiritual or `begotten son' stage is the reason for this to be a possibility.
We are set free from our sinful nature and our past totally when we yield to the Word . The New Testament fulfilled the Old Testament. The joy that is part of this is not only produced by the fact that our sins are forgiven but we are looking forward and have a part in a heavenly existence forever without tears, unhappiness and tribulation.
"In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.
"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs." (Hebrews 1:1-4 NIV)
"But whoever (that means anyone) lives by the truth (not laws but the Word of God) comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." (John 3:21 NIV) "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son (allowed His flesh, His humanity, to be crucified), that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16 NIV)
After his birth, Jesus had to be hidden to stay alive, indicating that he was subject to death like us. He grew up in a family and became a carpenter. He was not revealed to the public until He was to consecrate His life to His ministry and follow the Holy Spirit's leading. He received the Holy Spirit after He was baptized by John the Baptist who identified Him as the Messiah.
"And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer [it to be so] now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying,
"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:15-17) What did Jesus mean when he said: "for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." The NIV states: "it is proper for us (He was talking to John the Baptist) to do this to fulfill all righteousness."
John the Baptist had received the Holy Spirit while he was still in his mother's womb. Why was John not called the first begotten Son, if he had the Holy Spirit? John was to bear witness of the Light (the eternal life, `zoe' is the Greek word, refers to the principle of life in the spirit, expressing all of the highest blessedness He can give us).
Without John the Baptist the world would not have been able to understand it. Bearing witness means to confirm and testify to the truth because he had joint knowledge (due to the Holy Spirit in his heart). For `us to fulfill all righteousness' sounds like John the Baptist and Jesus Christ were necessary to do that. To fulfill in Greek `pleroo' means to fill, as a net with fish, in Matthew 3:15 it means to complete an image (character) of God in a human being.
Righteousness relates to the word `dikaiosune' it fulfills God's claims of a certain standard of behavior when accepted and conformed to, gives man certain rights which do not belong to those who do not recognize His authority as the creator of human beings. Righteousness stands opposite lawlessness. Since God Himself is the standard for the believer, it is a God-like righteousness.
Since we cannot be God-like in our human spiritual failure mode, we have to take this concept to another level and go to Romans 5:17 NIV, where the apostle Paul gives us another clue: "For if, by the trespass of the one man (Adam 's disobedience), death reigned through that one man (all humans have to die because of the sin factor created by Adam's disobedience), how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ."
To simplify this, the righteousness of God is the right which God has upon man. In order for man to recognize and fully submit to the right of God upon his life, he must receive God who offers Himself or His righteousness (Jesus Christ, the Word) to man as a gift. Who are they that are perfect? The Greek word: `Teleios' comes from the word goal or purpose. `Perfect' in this case relates to fully completed growth over time. God's perfection is absolute; man's is relative, reaching the goal set for him by God-given ability.
It is one who has attained his moral end, the goal for which he was intended, namely, to be a man obedient in Christ. It may be true though, that having reached this attainment, other and higher ends will open up before him in order to have Christ formed in him more and more. Perfection is not a static state.
What really is obedience that God is expecting? Since Jesus Christ is the Word, also called the Holy Scriptures, it has to do with the Word. Jesus said: "He who has ears, let him hear." (Matthew 11:15 NIV) "He who has ears, let him hear." (Matthew 13:9 NIV)
Later in Matthew, Jesus told the listeners about a farmer planting seeds and confided to them that he spoke in parables because: `Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing they do not hear or understand,' and warns us that the reason is, their heart has become calloused. Their consciences have been seared with a hot iron (see 1 Timothy 4:2).
The Greek word for `sear' is Kauteriazo relating to the use of kauterizing to stop the bleeding. `Kauteriazo' comes from the Greek word `kaio' that means to set on fire or consume or burn. What has this kind of an effect on our hearts? Paul in 1 Timothy
4:2 touched on it:
"Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron." Hypocrites are mentioned in the Old Testament in Job 15:34 in KJV: "For the congregation of hypocrites [shall be] desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles
of bribery," and in the NIV: "Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance, for no godless man would dare come before him!"
In Greek the word is `hupokrites' a man under a mask impersonating a character. A counterfeit, a man or woman who assumes and speaks or acts under a feigned (fake, fictitious, artificial, pseudo) character. Where does that leave us when we are told to fake it, as the `power of positive thinking' advocates.
"Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron." (1 Timothy 4:2 NIV) Our hearts become so scarred from not being real with the people around us that we cannot hear the message from the Scriptures anymore and loose out on an eternal life in happiness and end in fire instead. When we try to understand the Word, God gives us a way to do it that not only works but gives the blessings we seek in this world already.
We are being lied to from all directions and often cannot find our way out of a paper bag because of it. We have a tendency to believe the lie because we are too lazy to seek the answers in the Bible. They are all there. The creator of this universe wrote the book.
He would have to know the answers. Here is an explanation of a parable Jesus told to his listeners:
"Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.
"This is the seed sown along the path . The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.
"The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." (Matthew 13:18-23 NIV)
One consolation is that it is never too late to start listening to evangelists, who are speaking the Word of God. When lies were exposed to me, I found myself motivated to study the Bible myself. The Scripture teaches that human beings are born with a physical body and a soul.
The soul contains within it intelligent substance which has the `God's begotten Son' potential of regenerating a new spirit with the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us that we have two options: we can knock on His door and He will open it up to us or we can open the door when He knocks on our door to help us become his brother and friend.
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7 NIV) or as Jesus said: "Here I am! I stand at the
door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20 NIV)
The Bible is absolute truth, verifying that these verses will prove to be true but it takes time and effort like anything else. This is about getting a loving family forever. What could be greater.
Many of us, when we hear the word `obey' shriek back because we think of a father, mother or even a boss, who had a stiff hand on our rear end or threatened with a pink slip, if we did not obey. The word is not attractive to us. In our minds associations
with the word obedience sets up a wall between us and God.
We assume God is going to make demands on us that we can't possibly live up to, when we could not live up to the little things in our immediate environment. There is a tendency to leave the whole God issue on the shelf.
Another influence that has tremendous effects on pushing that subject even further out of sight is what is going on in some churches, some televangelism and with Christians who call themselves `born again'. We are turned off so to speak. The door is shut tight and little by little we are desensitized to a point where we don't even listen to anyone.
When that happens we virtually sign our own death warrant forever. We missed out on a pardon from sin which can be likened to being in jail on deathrow and the judge decides to pardon us without penalty. To go a step further, wouldn't the judge be offended if we turned this offer down, especially since the judge placed his own son on deathrow in our stead. Can we blame the judge if he, in consequence of our decision, throws the book at us by condemning us to eternal hell.
The judge's son actually had to die for us and in amazing grace he didn't resent us for it, but now is still interceding for us in the presence of the judge. Not only that, he has assumed the responsibility of becoming our judge instead of his father. How can we turn this man down. He is so gracious. All he asks of us is that we love God with all our heart, soul and mind and that we love our neighbor.
As an analytical person, I was amazed how far off I was in my understanding of what God is trying to get us to understand because I had never taken the time to read and understand it for myself. I listened to others who didn't comprehend the message.
Ending up in total shipwreck, I was forced to seek help in the pages of the Bible. Now I'm alarmed as to how many people are not going to make it if they don't do the same.
"Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm [your] love toward him [a grieving Christian]. For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. To whom ye forgive any thing, I [forgive] also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave [it], for your sakes [forgave I it] in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. ..
"Now thanks [be] unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one [we are] the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who [is] sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ." (2 Corinthians 2:8..17)