Tag 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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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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Strange Christmas

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, (Galatians 4:4)

The year 2020 has been a historic year to say the least. It started with my retirement at the end of December 2019 and quickly followed by minor knee surgery on my left knee just three days after. Being new to retirement, I found it challenging to find what to do with all my spare time. I filled some of my time with volunteering opportunities at church and at the ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History. Of course, that occupied only part of my time. I also spent many hours, three to six hours a day, studying Scripture, something I enjoy the more I do it.

It was nice to have control of my own time and spend it at my own discretion. Then COVID-19 hit and everything changed, not just for me, but for everyone on Earth. I will spare all the details. I am certain that anyone reading this had similar experiences with masks, social distancing, restrictions on large gatherings, church shut-downs, etc. The year 2020 has been, in many respects, the worst year in the threescore and ten years of my life. Personally, I believe that what we experienced this year, especially with the draconian governmental intrusion into our lives, portends to the seven-year Tribulation prophesied in Scripture and the soon coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. That, in turn, gives me hope that the Rapture of the Church can happen at any moment now. That gives me joy and hope in spite of all this stink going on in our nation and the world.

The year 2020 quickly comes to a close, and we now come to Christmas. But like the rest of 2020, Christmas this year is very strange. My church just opened back up at the beginning of December, but with so many restrictions that it does not even “feel” like church. Attendees must wait to be ushered into a socially distanced place, wear masks during the worship portion of the service, and then wait to be ushered out at the end of the service. Any “fellowshipping” must be done outside of the building and hugs and handshakes are strongly discouraged. We normally put on a Christmas program at this season with choir and orchestra, which usually packs out the sanctuary. This year, we had a socially-distanced ensemble and a guest singer. The music was nice, but it lacked the pizzazz of past Christmas programs. Of course, the audience was at one-third of normal due to all the restrictions, and I missed the “feeling” of the event. I normally sing in the choir, but we could not do that because of COVID-19.

Christmas Eve service will be even stranger. This year it will be “virtual.” Our pastor will bring a Christmas message and we will observe the Lord’s Supper “online.” I do not mean to criticize. I am only stating reality. I know our church staff is trying to make the best of a stinky situation, but for all their effort, it is still a very strange Christmas.

For many years I have bemoaned the inflated sentimentality attached to the season. (You can read my past articles on the topic.) In the first place, it is highly unlikely that Jesus was born in December. In the second place, the overt commercialization of the season detracts from any significance of its true meaning. And in third place, the sentimentality attached to it makes it more about us, and it does about Him.

Our tree is up, the nativity is on the mantle, and Christmas lights illuminate our front yard, and it still feels like a very strange Christmas. What is not strange or unchanged is God’s love and gift to us in taking “upon him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7) “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). When you think about it, that in itself is strange. However, it is God’s plan, and it is in effect regardless of circumstances. Maybe it’s good that this is such a strange Christmas after all.

Merry Christmas!

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