oo often this time of year we get into the mindset that we need to put Christ back in Christmas, or that we must remember the reason for the season. While this statement is true, so far as we must remember and think intently on what Christ has done for us, should this not be the case every season? Or to put Christ in Christmas, should he not be in our everyday lives. We can make a really good case that the 'holy day' Christmas in itself is not Christian. For instance the time of year is wrong, the early Christians didn't celebrate it, the puritians didn't celebrate it, birthdays are only mentioned twice in the bible and they both ended with murder (pharoh's baker, and John the Baptist), it was a MASS adopted by the Catholic Church which convieniently coincided with the pagan holidays of the surrounding culture, this list goes on and on with reasons we could believe Christmas is not Christian. With that said I will say this, I too celebrate Christmas with my wife and our families, we have an "idol-i-tree", (oops I mean Christmas tree), stockings, the whole works. So I recognize hypocrisy on my part, and that is why I will not tell anyone not to celebrate Christmas.
Here is my real beef with Christmas. It is the fictionization of Christ's coming to this earth. Think about it, we sing these sweet songs: "Away in a manger no crib for a bed the little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head" or "Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright" yet something seems amiss. We view beautiful manger scences with a perfect looking baby so sweetly gazing into Mary's eyes. We see paintings with a holy glow around Mary and Jesus. My question is, does any of this line up with the real experience of child birth? No. There is pain in delivering a baby, and then it is bloody, and it cries. Usually the head is shaped like a cone. Real child birth certainly is a holy experience I have no doubt, but what we portray as the manger scene is simply fairy tale. It was dirty, labor was hard as it always is, Jesus came into the world as a human, fully human, fully God. He did not come in as an angelic abnormal child like all of our traditions portray him, he came into this world like you and I. This picture that we have painted certainly is not the picture the bible paints, and we wonder why the world continually rejects true Christianity. The "Christmas Christianty" which we too often present is easy to accept because it isn't real, and it is just something fun to believe in, or to pretend to believe in. Yet the real Christianity which is laced with toil, self denial, and the struggle of mastery over the flesh, the faith where we confess we would be nothing but fodder for the pit of hell if it were not by the grace of God, that Christianity is lost in our retelling of the Christmas story. Ah, in the real Christmas story we see that underlying joy amidst the struggle of life, we see the beauty of grace and the humility of Christ. I guess that is what frustrates me the most, it is important to understand that Christ came into a dump for us, that he gave up all he could have. The real Christmas story is such a powerful image of Christ's gospel, yet our tradition makes it into a fantasy with no power at all.
That is all I have for now.
Have a happy December 25, and remember that Christ came into filth, and was born just as any other man or woman is born, and because he came in the flesh, as a human, we can trust in his sacrifice and ressurection.
I have found it ironic the way that I deal with the issue of eternal security. I find that when I have commited sin that is bringing me guilt and I am struggling to repent it is in those times when I sruggle with eternal security the most. In the times when things seem to be going well and I have my flesh in submission it is then that I am confident in eternal security. I say this is ironic because typically people on the non eternal security side will view this doctrine as a liscense to sin, and therefore not of God. You would think that when a believer was in sin, or struggling with sin, that they would cling to this doctrine. I have found the opposite to be true. When we are in sin we tend to doubt the infinite forgiveness which is in Christ of all sin, and we begin to believe that even after being justified in someway we must do something to obtain forgiveness. This of course is false, we are saved by grace, not of our own actions. That fact never changes, grace is given not earned, nor diligently kept, it is freely given. Still sin, when it takes occasion in us, brings us to the point where we even doubt the grace we have been given, and our natural response is to seek some sort of work of obedience to bring us back to a right standing with God. We are like dogs returning to our vomit, we once lived believing that we were good enough to get into heaven, and now we fall back into thinking we must be good enough to get into heaven. I am not sure what the answer is for us as believers. It is hard to remember when we sin, that we are redeemed, and that we must simply turn from the sin and keep marching on toward eternity. There is no need to question your eternal destiny, it is a waste of time, emotion, and energy, the battle has been one already, simply move on and continue in grace.
It has been a considerable time since I last posted, and I apologize to anyone who checks the blog regularly for my lack diligence. With that said hopefully I will begin posting regularly again, no promises though.
The past two days my thoughts have been centering on eternal security, ‘saved once, for eternity.’ This may be the most numerically divisive issue in Christendom, by numerically divisive I mean 50% believe in eternal security, 50% believe salvation can be lost. However this topic gets glossed over by many Christians. Nearly everyone will take a stand on abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, and [insert controversial subject here], yet among Christians positions on these subjects tend to be lopsided, with a small percentage leaning to the extreme liberal stance, while the majority consider it asinine that a Christian would consider homosexuality normal, abortion acceptable, and so on. We will debate issues that have been settled already, yet the majority of believers avoid the issue of eternal security. What is even more unsettling about this is that everyone has a belief concerning it, and it is typically a strong belief. If you ask a believer if they can still go to hell they will quickly answer yes or no. It is not something where people say they aren’t quite sure about it, or don’t have an opinion, it is always a simple yes or no. Regardless of which side of this argument you fall, it is a critical argument nonetheless. It is a debate that must be enacted, and both sides must search the scriptures and find the truth concerning it. This is not an issue like post-millennialism, or pre-millennialism, or whatever. That issue may be debated among believers who have all other things in common and the first principles of Christianity are not affected by the position held by the believer regarding this subject. Yet this issue of eternal security is foundational to our faith, it is a critical stone in the foundation of our relationship with God. So in this first, and maybe last (I hope not) post concerning eternal security I will just lay out the fundamental reasons it is an important debate.
1. If we are not eternally secure, obedience is required for salvation, if we are eternally secure disobedience cannot result in damnation.
2. If we are not eternally secure, salvation is from Christ, but is conditional based on the believer’s actions. If we are eternally secure salvation is from Christ independent of the believer’s actions.
3. If we are not eternally secure, Christ’s atonement was for past sins, and future sins, which we confess to Him. If we are eternally secure Christ’s atonement was for sins past present and future at the point of salvation.
4. If we are not eternally secure our obedience brings us to a right relationship with God. If we are eternally secure our relationship with God brings us to a point of obedience.
5. If we are not eternally secure God judges us by our actions (non-confessed sin.) If we are eternally secure God judges us by the merits of Christ despite the actions of the flesh.
6. If we are not eternally secure we will be held accountable the deeds of the flesh. If we are eternally secure the deeds of the flesh are not imparted to our eternal soul.
This is just a list of 6 issues that could be addressed concerning eternal security. You can see that these issues are all foundational to what we believe, how we live, and who we think God is. We can gloss over this issue for the sake of unity, but the bottom line is that 50% of Christendom is fundamentally wrong. Either 50% are assuming a freedom that they don’t really have, or 50% are shackled by requirements they don’t need to meet.
That is the premise of the debate on eternal security. I will say that I undoubtedly believe that we are eternally secure, and that to believe otherwise is to stand upon a shaky foundation built by the merits of your own will. I will go further in saying that not believing in eternal security is essentially denying the very core of what God’s grace is. It is like being a Galatian who begins in the spirit but then attempts to be justified by the flesh. It is to call Paul a liar when he says it is no longer I that sin, but sin that dwelleth in me, that is, in my flesh. It is to deny the very imputed righteousness of Christ.
I hope to go more into this at a later time. Please post a comment if you disagree, set me straight if you feel you need to. Or drop some encouragement if you think I am on the right path.