Sunday – December 21, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship
Word On Worship – Sunday – December 21, 2014 Download / Print
Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, “SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME; IN WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND SACRIFICES FOR SIN YOU HAVE TAKEN NO PLEASURE. THEN I SAID, ‘BEHOLD, I HAVE COME (IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME) TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD.'”
One does not need to be a sociologist or a theologian to realize our society is doing everything it can to take Christ out of Christmas. Christmas is clearly under attack, both from within and without. It is no longer legal, or at least fashionable, to display a nativity scene on public property. Say things like, “Merry Christmas” and you will find people at best replying “Happy holidays.” Christmas vacation is now more obliquely called a “winter holiday” and will likely soon to be downgraded to a solstice celebration. What’s left of Christmas is less about the Newborn Babe and more about a chubby old man in a red suit.
While I am concerned about how the world views Christmas, I am more deeply troubled that all too many Christians fail to fully grasp the importance and implications of the incarnation. And beyond this, that many are willing to allow the celebration of the incarnation to be restricted to one day a year. I believe the importance of the incarnation is worthy of our attention in any season, but even more during this season lest the outgoing tide of culture pull us further away from the significance of God taking on human flesh. If we grasp the significance of the incarnation as we should, then we will also conclude that the annual celebration of Christmas is inadequate, and that our celebration of our Lord’s first coming must result in worship like the shepherds at the manger.
The incarnation was necessary in order for men to see God, and to behold how God’s perfections manifest themselves in humanity. God was unseen in the Old Testament, and because no man-made image (idol) or created thing could accurately reveal God’s likeness, their worship was forbidden by God. With the incarnation of our Lord in human form, God was now manifest in human flesh, so that men could see and touch Him. In the words of Scripture, Jesus was “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14). The incarnation is an essential part of the gospel, by which men are saved as Peter told the crowds in Acts 2:22-25. Belief in the incarnation is essential, so much so that embracing it is a test of orthodoxy as we have seen in our study of John’s first epistle (1 John 4:1-3).
The incarnation of our Lord is to be celebrated on a regular basis, every time we observe communion. The incarnation is to be celebrated in the context of the saving work of our Lord. Thus, communion is a proclamation of the fundamental truths of the gospel, truths which we dare not forget, and truths which those who are lost must embrace. Christ Jesus came to earth in sinless, human flesh, to live a life of complete obedience to the Father, and ultimately to die in the sinner’s place, bearing God’s wrath, so that all who accept His work may be saved.