CHRISTMAS - PUTTING OUT THE WELCOME MAT
by Cooper Abrams - Based on a message by J. Vernon McGee
INTRODUCTION: Christmas is the greatest holiday of the all.
1. Christmas is a time of gift giving. Tradition say it began when the wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
2. I was watching a news report and reporters were interviewing people about their thoughts on Christmas. The one major problem that people mentioned over and over was what kind of gift to give.
a. Often it people try to discount the truth that folks think that the value of the gift shows how much you think of that person. The fact is to some degree this is true. You would not give a really expensive gift to someone who you was not close to, yet you try to give nice things to people you love and care about. We might not be financially able to as expensive a gift as we would like but we will give the best we can.
b. There is always a problem when money is tight and you have a lot of relatives and friends. You want to give them all something really nice, but you do not have the funds, so you do the best you can.
I. WHAT WAS THE GREATEST GIFT THAT WAS EVER GIVEN?
ILLUS: A while back, on "Good Morning, America," Joan Lunden featured some gift ideas. They were extraordinary gifts that some of you might want to include on your Christmas gift list.
One of them was a Jaguar automobile, the Jaguar 220. If you care to order one of these, go to your Jaguar dealer & put down your $80,000 deposit. Then when the automobile is delivered, you are expected to pay the balance of $507,000. The Jaguar 220 is a $587,000 automobile, & they only make 250 of them a year.
Joan Lunden also mentioned that if you were to purchase such an automobile, you might also be interested in a new car wax that promises to give it the ultimate shine. It retails for $3,400 for an 8 ounce can. I guess if you can afford a half million dollar automobile, why not spend $3,400 for car wax?
A third item she mentioned was a $18,000 frisbee, a $10,000 yoyo, a $12,000 mousetrap, & even a $27,000 pair of sunglasses. And for the proud grandparent who is wondering what to buy the new grandbaby, how about a $28,000 pacifier?
However, none of these gifts or any gift in the world compares with the gift the God gave to the world.
A. Of all the gifts that was ever given one stands out clearly as the absolute best and most precious gift given for all time.
That was when God, our Creator, whose name the angel proclaimed was Emmanuel, meaning “God with us,” came to earth as a man, the Lord Jesus Christ, and He sacrificed Himself for the sins of all the world that man might have eternal life and heaven.
God gave Himself for His creation man. This is the greatest demonstration of love the world has ever seen.
B. This gift was desperately needed. Rom. 5:12.
1. When Adam and Eve, trusted Satan rather than God and sinned in the Garden of Eden sin came into the world and with it brought the penalty of sin which is death. It separated man from God.
2. Death and sin has since ruled in the world and all men like their fathers are born sinners.
3. Sin caused man to come under the judgment of God. A holy and righteous God must condemn sin and He cannot allow sin in heaven which is a perfect and sinless place. Thus man is faced with the surety of death and the certainty of condemnation because of sin.
4. Therefore mankind after Adam and Eve sinned was in a dilemma. Man was separated from God who is holy and righteous. Man had no way to save himself from death or restore fellowship or be reconciled to God.
C. But the gloomy picture has a bright side.
1. God in Genesis 3:15 promised He would do for man what man could not do for himself and promised He would send a Messiah, a Savior who would undo the work of Satan.
2. As Romans 5:15 states God's free gift was redemption from sin and death. Please note that redemption is stated as being a gift. A gift is something someone gives you because they want you to have it. A gift is not earned or merited. I worked for a company and each year I would receive a Christmas bonus. It was called a bonus....it was earned because of my being employed there...it was not a gift.
There are several Greek words in our English Bible that are translated “gift.”
• One is “doron” and means an honor presented to someone. Matt. 2:11...the wise men brought “doron” and present them to Jesus. Because was the new born King and desired honor. This is not the word used in Romans 5:15-16, 6:23 or 11:29.
• Another word is “dorsis” which refers to matter of crediting an account for because of a debt. This is not the word used here.
• The Greek word used translated “gift” is “dorea” meaning a something that is freely bestowed on another. In other words God the donor is gratuitously given grace to those who will receive it.
3. In verse 18 the Word of God says by the righteousness of One, meaning the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
Note it was by the righteous of Christ, not man’s righteousness or good works justification came to men. It was a “dorea” a free gift offered by God.
4. V17 Adam sinned and brought on all mankind
condemnation...yet when Christ came He brought life.
I do not wish to bore everyone by references to the Greek, but here in verse 15 the phrase “much more” gives a greater understanding that the English does. The thought here is not that by the offense of one (Adam) many die and like wise the grace of God is greater than death. That is true and is expressed in verse 20.
But here the phrase means even as we have the certainty of death. . . . much more we have the certainty of gift of God’s grace by Jesus Christ.
Do you notice that everywhere the Bible speaks of salvation through Jesus Christ....it is always a total work of Christ...not the work of man.
Verse 17 says those that receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by “one”....Jesus Christ!
Two things are seen here. One grace is something that is received and second the gift of grace and righteous is by Jesus Christ alone. Grace is not given based on merit only on one’s believe and willingness to place their faith and trust in the work of Jesus Christ.
5. V20, Where sin abounded, Grace abounded more!!
II. SALVATION MUST BE RECEIVED.
A. The Bible tells us clearly that this is a gift that everyone can receive freely. There is a stipulation however, as with any gift that you are offered you must receive it.
1. Eph. 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, No of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:9)
God says grace is received by faith.
2. John 3:16, “For God so loved the World....he
that believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
God says that the one who believe shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
3. Rom 10:9-10, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
God says that the one who not only confesses with his mouth that there Lord is Jesus Christ...but the one who believes sincerely in their heart, thereby receiving God grace is the one who is saved.
It is not receiving or being inclined toward some new philosophy. It involves one realizing that they are a sinner and knowing that sin brings death, they turn to God who freely offers totally forgiveness, eternal life and heaven. There is not conjecture in God offer....not conditions other than to receive it.
B. What then is true faith? If I can receive the free gift of God, which is Salvation...what is true believer or faith?
1. There is a catchy phrase that says, "If God said it I believe it, and that settles it." If that is your attitude of trust towards God's and God's Word, then you are obeying the Lord, and bringing Him honor and glory.
2. On the other hand, some express a different attitude. They may read the Bible, know that is what God has said and yet respond by saying, "God, you have a good thought, I appreciate it, but you don't understand my circumstances." Or one may say “God that really sounds good, I would like you forgive me and let me go to heaven, but I do not want to get all carried away with this religion business. I want to live my life as I please and do not want to be changing it.”
The true faith of many is tested when they are told they are to believe the Bible, God’s word and follow it
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says about the Bible, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
You see God’s plan for man is for him to live the best life possible and that means a life of righteous obeying God. However, some want heaven but want nothing to do with righteousness as Jesus stated in John 3:19.
C. Saving faith is faith that puts Jesus Christ as the head of one’s life. Saving faith says yes, God is my Creator and Savior and He is right....so I will do what He says because He is God and wants the best for them.
The lost man or the false Christians says, give me heaven but let me live my life as I want too.
III. WHAT THEN IS TRUE BIBLICAL FAITH?
A. Life is full of the unreal, the sham, the make believe, the counterfeit, the substitute and the fictitious, or pretended.
1. 2 Tim. 1:5 Paul refers to Timothy's faith as being "unfeigned." It means true faith without hypocrisy. Feigned means pretended, simulated, or imagined. ("un-fain-ed")
2. What does it mean to feign? Look at a little girl playing with her doll. What ever the doll may look like whether it be one that walks, talks and drinks and wets, OR one that is made of rags to that little girl it is her baby.
She rocks it to sleep, talks baby talk to it; she may even scold it. A young boy, plays policeman, fireman or air plane pilot.
He pretends to be a soldier, superman, ninja turtle. But is he what he pretends to be? How can you know?
3. All of us know that the world is full of sham, make believe and the unreal.
a. The fact that Paul says Timothy's faith was unfeigned implies that some folks may have "feigned" faith or faith that is not real.
b. Folks try and substitute a lot of things for faith, and they place their faith in a lot of things that are not real.
c. Faith is not a leap into the dark. True faith must be based on something that is true. Biblical faith is faith that believes God’s and accepts Him at His word.
It would do me no good to have faith in my ability to fly....why? I am not a bird! I could believe I could...but my belief would be in vain. To believe or have faith in something that is not real is worthless.
d. I met a Muslin on an airplane trip back East who was a very likeable fellow. He believes he will go to heaven because he is working at becoming a good person. He believes in Allah...however Allah is the figment of Muhammad imagination. He is not real and faith in a god that is not real is of no value.
We could use a lot of examples of false gods people sincerely believe in. A native in the jungle worships a snake. A missionary I heard speak while in a missions class at school said in the village in South America where he worked they worshiped the python. One came into the village and took a young child and the people cried and begged it not to kill and eat the child, but they would do nothing to stop the snake because they believed it was a god. It ate the child. What a tragedy to have faith in a false god that cannot hear nor can he save.
B. Folks truth faith Must be based on TRUTH.
1. There are lots of reasons some folks have a feigned faith:
Some are afraid of Hell. Some joined churches hoping to avoid hell, or it may be a popular thing to do in one’s family and it pleases one’s family or friends. A person may want to go to heaven, because they may have love ones there. There can be many reasons for wanting to go to heaven.
Yet, joining a church does not save, nor doing even many great works, or being kind, or even showing love. All these things are greatly needed, but they are not God's plan of salvation.
A feigned faith is not real no matter how sincere the person may be. In time feigned faith is exposed as not being real because it does not a change in one’s life. It does not bring inward peace, satisfaction and assurance because God is not in it and only true salvation brings peace and joy to a ones soul. It never brings a personal and comforting relationship with God.
3. There really is no other kind of Biblical faith but "unfeigned.".
C. Have you ever wondered why the Bible has so much to say about what is true faith? Did you even consider why preachers who are true the Bible preach so much about true and false faith?
The answer is simple: True faith saves...It appropriates the gift of God...Salvation... forgiveness of sin and Eternal life.
False faith, is false hope...it leaves one empty, abandoned and helplessly lost. It does not fill the void in our lives.
False faith is worse that no faith, because it lures folks into thinking that they have the real thing when they don't.
Folks who have real biblical faith are saved and know they will go to heaven! Folks who have a feigned faith are lost and on their way to hell!
D. Biblical faith is more than giving mental assent to Truth.
1. What does True faith do?
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 1:12).
2. Note the verse says "to all or as many as receive Him".
It means when there is true Biblical faith, Christ is received into one’s life and He becomes the one's MASTER. It means a person's life is changed. He begins to live a life with Christ.
We are married to Christ. How many husbands and wives did not have their lives changed when they began to live with their spouses? The answer is none.
3. It a person truly believes it means he accepts true Biblical doctrine and that is evidenced by growing more and more like Christ. True faith produces holy living.
False faith does not change ones life.
D. You can know a lot about Christ and the Bible. That knowledge can be acquired from books, Sunday School teachers and even preaching or growing up in church.
Superficial faith or feigned faith says: “I believe in God” but many times sees God as the "old man upstairs" with no influence or their lives. A feigned faith sees no responsibility to God, but they really do not believe in God. Feigned faith sees God by and through the a man's eyes.
However, Biblical or unfeigned faith knows God by the heart. It is a personal relationship and knowing who He is loves, worships and obeys Him.
God’s promise to those who believe is simple and absolute:
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
1. Folks God has a wonderful and eternal gift He offers to all. It is not just offered a Christmas but throughout the year.
It is the most wonderful gift a man can obtain and that gift is eternal life.
That is the true Christmas message that God sent His Son the Lord Jesus Christ to pay our sin debt and then to offer us the offer of grace free to all will believe and receive it
2. The person who believes will have his life is changed.
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Cor. 5:17).
3. Receiving God's gift of Salvation is receiving Jesus Christ into one's life. Any other kind of expressed faith is false.
4. It is Christmas time, a time to be thankful for the coming of the Savior. It is a time to accept God’s precious gift of forgiveness of sin and eternal life.
It should be a time when all men examine their hearts and determine once for all if they have truly received Jesus as their Savior.
Second it is a time when those who are saved should share the greatest gift on earth...that is the Gospel with those around us.If you liked the message and would like to see more sermons posted regularly on the Bible Truth Web Site would you let be know? I would like to hear from you. Please click the button below. Thanks