Category Archives: Christmas

Baby God

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew 1:23)

To begin, allow me to clear up any misconceptions that my title may evoke about God having a beginning. That would be heresy. Let me emphatically state that God is eternal, without beginning or ending.[1] “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen” (Psalm 41:13).

That said, at this time of year we celebrate the birth of baby Jesus – the Word made flesh come to “tabernacle” among us.[2] His birth was no more miraculous than the birth of any other baby. In many ways, His arrival took place in possibly the worst of circumstances – born in an animal shelter with a feeding trough as His first cradle. The Gospel writer, Luke, does not specify, but Mary probably had the assistance of midwives at the birth. An often-overlooked phrase in the account states that “while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered” (Luke 2:6, emphasis mine). Evidently, they were in Bethlehem at least a day or two before the birth. Bethlehem being a small town, the word of a newly arrived expectant mother would surely have come to the ears of competent midwives, and women being women, they would certainly have been willing to lend a hand.

So, the birth itself was nothing special. The conception that took place nine months earlier in Nazareth, that was the miracle![3] Now, here He was – Baby God! “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3, emphasis mine). Yet, here He was – God in the form of a helpless baby that needed to be fed, needed to have His diapers changed, needed to be carried, and needed to be protected. Baby God!

How is that possible? How can God be a helpless baby and Almighty God at the same time? Theologians have debated this question for millennia. Some suggest that Jesus was unaware of His deity until the time of His baptism when God announced, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Some say that it was later in His ministry, perhaps at the time He knew His mission to go to the cross. Then there are the pseudo gospels that have the boy Jesus forming birds out of clay and making them come to life. We know nothing of Jesus’ childhood, but the Gospel writer, Luke, does record an account, perhaps at Jesus’ bar mitzva, when He baffled the religious teachers with His wisdom and knowledge.[4] When His earthly parents found Him in the Temple and chided Him for worrying them, He responded, “How is it that ye sought me? [did you not know] that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49, emphasis mine). It appears that Jesus knew His mission at least at the young age of twelve.

Theologians can debate all they want, but it seems clear to me from Scripture that this baby was God in the flesh. How was that possible? The answer is the same answer that the Angel Gabriel gave to Mary. “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). In our feeble minds, we want to know all the details of how God does what He does. Our finite minds cannot comprehend the infinite knowledge, wisdom, and power of Almighty God! Indeed, the Bible teaches that “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29). The “secret thing” is how God accomplished such an awesome feat. The God of heaven, the Creator of all that exists, took on human flesh in the form of a helpless baby without giving up any of His “Godship.” We can never fully grasp that. However, the “things which are revealed” show us that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “… Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). He came as a baby – Baby God.

Notes:


[1]  “The Eternality of God” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/06/04/the-eternality-of-god/

[2]  John 1:14

[3]  “Miracle of the Incarnation” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2012/12/24/miracle-of-the-incarnation/

[4]  Luke 2:43-49

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Just As Predicted

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Many people regard the Bible as any other book of mythology. They cannot accept that it is a true for a host of reasons. Some question its veracity because it was written by men, and we all know men are flawed and always embellish the truth in order to make their god or hero appear better than reality. Some suggest that through the many centuries of transmission, errors have crept into the text so that it cannot be trusted. Even now, they say, we have so many translations, and they all differ one from another.

It is true that the Bible had many human authors. Many of these men lived centuries apart and lived in different regions. They all wrote independently of one another, yet the Bible maintains a flow and consistency that defies human ingenuity. The only reasonable explanation for such cohesion and consistency is supernatural guidance. The Apostle Paul tells us that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (2 Timothy 3:16). The Apostle Peter explains, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20-21, emphasis mine).

As for errors in transcription and transmission, over 5000 manuscripts of the New Testament Scriptures exist today and they all agree, and the few errors that exists are mostly minor spelling errors that are readily identifiable when compared to other copies. As for the Old Testament, the Dead Sea Scrolls validate that what we have in our modern Bibles is accurate. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

The skeptic may concede the accuracy in transmission, but may still doubt the veracity of the text. The best way to respond is to show where the predictions made in the Bible have come to pass. The birth of Jesus offers many examples.

The first book of the Bible declares Jesus’ linage from the tribe of Judah.[1] The pagan prophet Balaam predicted that a star would announce His birth.[2] Several passages predict that Jesus would come from the line of King David.[3] Our beginning verses predicts that Jesus would come as a child.[4] He would be born of a virgin.[5] His birthplace would be Bethlehem.[6] Shepherds and wisemen would worship Him.[7] Baby boys in Bethlehem would be slaughtered in an attempt to kill the baby Jesus.[8] His earthly parents would escape to Egypt and return after Herod the Great died.[9]

All of these predictions came true and these only surrounded His birth. All those concerning His earthly ministry, His death, burial and resurrection came true exactly as predicted. The odds of just those listed concerning His birth coming true are astronomical. Yet Jesus fulfilled every one of those things which were prophesied about His first coming. If that cannot convince the skeptics that the Bible is true, then they just do not want to believe.

More prophesies exist about His second coming than exist about His first coming. If the prophecies of His first advent were fulfilled with 100% accuracy, we can be certain that the prophecies concerning His second advent will be come to pass just as predicted. In fact, we see many of those taking place before our eyes.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ time had access to all the prophecies concerning Jesus’ first coming, and they completely missed Him. He is coming again. How many today are so busy doing “religious” things that they will miss His second coming? Are you ready? If not, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1] Genesis 49:10

[2]  Numbers 24:17

[3]  Isaiah 11:1 (Jesse was David’s father); 2 Samuel 7:12-13; Jeremiah 23:5-6;

[4]  Isaiah 9:6

[5]  Isaiah 7:14

[6]  Micah 5:2

[7]  Psalm 72:9-10

[8]  Jeremiah 31:15

[9]  Hosea 11:1

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Xmas Is Not Christian

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. (Matthew 7:6)

I am certain that my title stirred my Christian brothers and sisters to protest, “It is too!” Well, hang on and allow me to explain.

I assume, wrongly perhaps, that most Christians understand that Jesus was not born on December 25, or any time in December. I have covered that in other articles,[1], [2], [3] but that is not my purpose here. Regardless of the accuracy of the date, it is right that we, as Christians, take time to celebrate and give thanks to God for sending us His Son to “save His people from their sins.”[4]

But let us face it. The majority of the world who celebrates this season see it as the season of giving (and getting). They may have a remote idea for the Reason for the season, but only as a matter fact and not necessarily the focal point. In fact, any reminder of Christ’s birth is seen as offensive. The mere greeting of “Merry Christmas” is socially unacceptable and the preferred greeting is “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings,” but most choose to leave Christ out of it.

I could give more examples of the rampant materialism that takes place at that this time, but why harp on the obvious? For all these reasons I say that Christmas is not Christian; it is largely a secular plunge into self-indulgence and avarice. However, Christians need not get sucked into the fray. Lay aside the world’s Xmas and focus on the true meaning of this special time of celebration. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Notes:


[1] “Jesus’ Birthday” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/12/25/jesus-birthday/  

[2]  “What A Thing!” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/12/10/what-a-thing/

[3]  “Shepherd of Shepherds” — https://erniecarrasco.com/2013/12/22/shepherd-of-shepherds/

[4]  Matthew 1:21

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Filed under Christianity, Christmas, Holidays, Salvation

It’s Not Even Thanksgiving!

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

This time of year gives rise to one of my pet peeves, and that is the commercialization of Christmas. Often you can find in stores Christmas displays right alongside Halloween displays. The anticipated celebration of Jesus’ birth coexisting with what is arguably a celebration of demonic activity.

By now, all the Halloween decorations are down and you can get great deals on leftover Halloween candy. Christmas decorations dominate the scene now. Television commercials remind us that Christmas is just around the corner. The news media are raising public anxiety over the fear that all our Christmas presents will not arrive on time because they are all on container ships anchored off the California coast. That could very well happen, but so what?

In all the concern over Christmas it appears that everyone has forgotten all about Thanksgiving. What does this say about us as a society? It seems that we focus more on frivolity and materialism than we do on gratitude for the things we already have.

The Bible says much about giving thanks to God for the blessings we have. It also speaks much about frivolity and materialism. It calls these things idolatry. God takes a very dim view of idolatry. Of course, some may say, “Well Christmas is about Jesus.” Is it? Is Jesus the focal point of Christmas or is it more giving and receiving gifts? All the while, we forget to thank God for all the blessings He has already lavished on us.

Why not start celebrating the true gift of Christmas, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, by first being thankful to God for all He has already given us and for His special gift of the Baby Jesus. So what if all the Christmas presents remain on container ships anchored off the California coast! The Bible says, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, emphasis mine).

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, Christmas, Current Events, Holidays, Random Musings, Thanksgiving, Theology

Why the Resurrection Matters

He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, (Luke 24:6)

Christmas and Easter (I prefer “Resurrection Day”) are the two most important days on the Christian calendar with Resurrection Day being, arguably, the most important of the two. One might argue that we could not have the Resurrection without the Birth, but the Birth without the Resurrection would render both insignificant.

Jesus’ birth came like the birth of any other baby. The Gospel writer Luke records the event taking place in a humble animal shelter visited only by lowly shepherds. However, Luke points out an important fact that is summarily overlooked by most readers. Luke says that, “while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered” (Luke 2:6, emphasis mine). So, apparently, Joseph and Mary had been in Bethlehem a few days before the time of her delivery. Luke does not say, but it seems reasonable that in Bethlehem there were ladies who, seeing a young woman ready to give birth, would have offered their services as midwives. That is the way they did it in those days. Regardless, the birth was no different than any other. The conception nine months prior was the “miracle.” At that time, God planted His seed in Mary’s womb without human aid.

So Jesus came into the world and “dwelt among us”[1] and “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). He grew up like any other Jewish boy and probably learned carpentry from His earthly father, Joseph. At the age of 30,[2] the age at which priests enter service,[3] Jesus started His three-year earthly ministry. We know from the four Gospel accounts that His ministry ended with His death on the cross. He was buried in a borrowed tomb and rose on the third day.

But what if the resurrection never happened? Paul put it quite succinctly when he said, “if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). If Jesus did not rise from the grave, His death for our sins is of no avail. We have no hope of eternal life, and, worse, our destiny is in hell. That explains why unbelievers live for this life alone because, for them, this life is all there is. They reject the concept of hell and prefer the idea that death ends it all, or that it begins a new cycle through reincarnation.

Many arguments against the resurrection of Jesus exist that have a long history from the very beginning. Some say that Jesus did not die on the cross but only “swooned” and revived in the cool dampness of the tomb, rolled the two-ton stone away and walked out. That is a silly theory when one considers the beating, torture, and flogging Jesus received before being nailed to the cross. Also the Roman soldiers who crucified Him were expert executioners and were familiar with death. Had they suspected that He “swooned,” they would have broken His legs like they did with the other two victims.[4] These were professionals; they knew death. Then, to ensure His death, one of the soldiers ran his spear into his side and punctured the pericardium.[5]  

Let us say, for argument’s sake, that this one they failed to recognize and Jesus did indeed pass out. Even if He did revive in the cool tomb, the loss of blood from the beatings and flogging, not to mention the puncturing of his heart sac, would have left Him too weak roll away the heavy stone – one that took several men to move – by Himself.

Another argument suggests that Jesus’ disciples overpowered the Roman guard posted at the tomb.[6] This too is a silly argument. All four Gospels record how the disciples went into hiding at Jesus’ arrest. They feared for their lives. It seems unlikely that these frightened men, most of them fishermen and at least one un-calloused tax collector, would dare to take on battle-hardened professional Roman soldiers. However, this fabrication spread from the very beginning. Matthew records that an angel came to roll back the stone and the soldiers on watch were scared stiff.[7] The soldiers, knowing the consequence (death) for failing in their responsibility to keep the tomb secure, went to the chief priests, rather than their leaders, hoping to get a sympathetic hearing about the empty tomb. They made a good choice as the Jewish religious leaders paid them off and covered for them as long as they would spread the lie that the disciples had stolen the body.[8]

Still another argument insists that the women that went to the tomb on Sunday morning were so grief-stricken that they failed to recognize Jesus’ tomb and went to the wrong sepulcher which was empty. This argument simply rejects what Scripture clearly reports. Three of the four Gospels record that the women witnessed the tomb where Jesus was laid.[9] John, who was present at the crucifixion along with Jesus’ mother and the other women, does not say, but it stands to reason that he would have accompanied them to the tomb.

Jesus rose from the dead. If that were not true, the Jews, because of their hatred for Him, only needed to exhume the body and present it to the world, but they had no body. Men have tried and failed to show Jesus’ remains, but they cannot.

Jesus rose from the dead. He conquered death, and because He conquered death, we have the assurance that our sins are covered and we have eternal life with him. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept [died]. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:19-22, emphasis mine). “For if by one man’s [Adam] offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one [Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [Jesus] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s [Adam] disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one [Jesus] shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:17-19, emphasis mine).

Because Jesus conquered death, we can have the assurance of eternal life with Him. That is why the resurrection matters. If you are not sure where you stand before Jesus, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  John 1:14

[2]  Luke 3:23

[3]  Numbers 4:3

[4]  John 19:32-33

[5]  John 19:34

[6]  Matthew 27:65-66

[7]  Matthew 28:2-4

[8]  Matthew 28:11-15

[9]  Matthew 27:61; Mark 15:47; Luke 23:55

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