The Christmas Truce

It was December 24, 1914.  It has now been months since Europe was engulfed in the deadliest conflict in modern history to date.

Though the Germans had made a strong offensive into France, the French, Belgian, and British forces were able to halt them.  But they were not able to push the Germans out of France and a stalemate developed as both sides dug into the earth creating a large network of trenches.

As I read historical accounts of this stalemate I was shocked by the misery these soldiers were enduring under the fog of war.  Heavy rain water, mixed with blood and dirt in these trenches was as inescapable as the fear of death itself.

But something amazing happened on Christmas Eve 1914.  Under the deep darkness of war created by human depravity and demonic influence, the message of the Gospel broke through in a brief but memorable miracle of modern warfare.

In a well documented event, across many portions of the front lines fighting ceased as British and German soldiers came out of the trenches in the ‘no man’s land,’ congregated, sang carols and even exchanged food items.  This lasted several days to the dismay of upper levels of command.

The Christmas Truce was evidence that the message of the Gospel is embodied in the message of Christmas.  War, conflict, and hate cannot quench it.  It shines through as a beacon of hope.

Even though the world cannot achieve “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” mentioned by Paul in Philippians 4:7, the world longs for it.  Secular as well as pagan preach it without being able to attain it.  This peace is given to those who belong to God, those who have been renewed by the Holy Spirit, and those who have accepted the message of Christmas as truth:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14

A glimmer of hope on Christmas Eve, 1914 was brought on by remembering the birth of Jesus, and it stood out as an example how the message of the Gospel can bring peace into the world.  But unfortunately over 70 million were killed in the two World Wars because the hearts of men were darkened by the evil in them due to their unbelief and rejection of this Gospel.

But as Christians we rejoice because God “made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:6) and the peace we received is not a just a temporary Christmas Truce, but the evidence of our eternal salvation.

Christ was born! Merry Christmas!

historical accounts:

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Bethel Romanian Church, Stanton CA –  United Choir (Youth, Girls and Kids Choirs)

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells are ringing ( Peace on earth)
Like a choir they’re singing (Peace on earth)
In my heart I hear them ( Peace on earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men

But the bells are ringing (Peace on earth)
Like a choir singing (Peace on earth)
Does anybody hear them? (Peace on earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men

Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor does He sleep (He is The Lord)
(He is The Lord)
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men

Then ringing singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells they’re ringing (Peace on earth)
Like a choir they’re singing (Peace on earth)
And with our hearts we’ll hear them (Peace on earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men

Do you hear the bells they’re ringing?
They’re like the angels singing
Open up your heart and hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men
Peace on earth, Peace on earth
Peace on earth, Good will to men

The Virgin Birth: Without it Christianity Cannot Stand

“The answer to that question would explain history for me.” – Atheist Larry King on his show’s 25th anniversary (June 5, 2010), on whether Jesus was born of a virgin.

The Washington Post is stirring things up on this theme by asking the question “Did Isaiah really predict the Virgin birth?”

It may be shocking to some of us who hold to the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture that there are some Christians who may not believe that Jesus was born of a virgin Mary.

To add fuel to this controversy there have been translations of the Bible which omit the word “virgin” from the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy. Examples:

“Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” NRSV

“Look this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son. You, young woman will name him Immanuel.” NET

The word in question here is the Hebrew word “almâ” which should be translated “virgin.” Strong’s dictionary which translates and annotates every word in the Bible (even provides detailed translation notes) gives the following commentary on “almâ:”

“There is no instance where it can be proved that this word designates a young woman who is not a virgin.”

Therefore, because of the paramount importance of the virgin birth, the word “virgin” absolutely belongs in Isaiah 7:14.

Without the virgin birth, Christians do not have a living faith; in fact, they do not have any faith at all. Why? Comparative religion scholar John Weldon gives us the answer:

“If Jesus Christ was not virgin born, then by definition he was produced by normal human procreation. If so, this makes him a normal human being just like every other person. The implications of this for all of Christology and biblical theology are devastating. If Christ was not virgin born, then he was not sinless, but a sinner like all other humans. If he were a sinner, he would require salvation from sin. If he was a sinner, he could not be God incarnate. If he was not God incarnate, he could not be the atoning Savior for sin. If he was not the atoning Savior for sin, we are still in our sins and the whole edifice of Christian theology crumbles. If we are still our sins, we are without hope.”

This is not only about the inerrancy of the Bible. This is about reducing and trying to fit God into human terms and human experience. The minute we are successful at boxing God into human parameters, that god is no longer the great “I am” revealed in the Bible.

This is why theologically liberal “Christians” must first of all come to the cross and receive the gift of faith for their salvation, and then they must use their faith to believe that Jesus was indeed conceived by the Holy Spirit in a supernatural way and born by virgin birth.

The Holy Spirit Displayed His Work at the Time of Messiah’s Birth

Approximately four hundred years of prophetic silence had passed in Israel since Malachi, the last chronological and canonical prophet, received his revelation from God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Four hundred years had passed since the last filling with the Holy Spirit of any person in the written record.

These were four hundred years of political struggle and spiritual darkness for the people of Israel.

During the inter-testamental period, the religiosity of the Jews grew steadily in empty orthodox Mosaic practice in a way that was not pleasing to God.  Despite this long and dark spiritual age, the prophecy given to Isaiah begins to come to fruition through the work of the Holy Spirit:

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.  For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” Isaiah 9:2

The dark period referenced by Isaiah comes to an end with a series of amazing events under the sovereign control of God through the work of the Holy Spirit.

It was a rare and well noted event in the Old Testament for a person to be filled with the Holy Spirit, but in the period surrounding Jesus’s birth, the Holy Spirit began a special work that eventually culminated in the age of the Church.

First and foremost, the Holy Spirit takes on an active role in the coming of Jesus into our world by conceiving Him in a supernatural way in Mary’s womb.

We then have special prophetic messages being delivered from God via Gabriel to Zechariah and Mary.

Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesies about “my Lord” when she meets Mary who is pregnant with baby Jesus. Baby John is filled with the Holy Spirit while in her womb as foretold by Gabriel.

It is also fascinating to note how an unborn baby “leapt for joy.” Being filled with the Holy Spirit and being able to feel joy are important characteristics of a person. This is one of the reasons why we believe that an unborn baby is a person, and life begins at conception.

Zechariah undergoes the miracle of regaining his speech, is filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophecies about the coming of the Messiah and the work of his son John.

We see the filling and guidance of the Holy Spirit with respect to Simeon and Anna when they see baby Jesus at the temple.

The Spirit also pours out the gift of knowledge on Jesus as a child when He teaches in the temple, and Jesus becomes “full of the Holy Spirit” in His ministry.

All these aspects of the vast work of the Holy Spirit herald the transition from a dark age into an age of light, the Messianic age, and ultimately the Church age when the Spirit is poured out onto the followers of Christ without measure in the baptism and the filling with the Holy Spirit.

Unlike in the OT era, we now have a special privilege to be able to access an abundance of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. What used to be a rare and very selective event, the filling with the Spirit has now become accessible to all born-again believers. All glory belongs to God-the Holy Spirit for the work He does in us!

War on Christmas (part 2)

We pick up on this theme from here, and we turn our attention to an organization named American Atheists which has declared an intellectual war on religion, especially Christianity.

They were founded by Madalyn Murray O’Hare, the litigant in the Supreme Court case responsible for removing prayer from schools in the early 1960’s, and their current membership numbers in the thousands.

If you have seen offensive billboards toward Jesus while driving around, it is highly likely they are sponsored by this group. They have made the news recently due to a coordinated campaign against the message of Christmas, calling Jesus a “myth.”

Said their president: “We know that a large population of ‘Christians’ are actually atheists who feel trapped in their family’s religion. If you know god is a myth, you do not have to lie and call yourself ‘Christian’ in order to have a festive holiday season. You can be merry without the myth, and indeed, you should”

As a result they have launched a billboard campaign called “keep the merry, dump the myth.”

It is sad to realize that these people have to fight a belief system in order to place themselves on the map. They don’t realize that they have their own religion, a set of beliefs and principles called “atheism,” and they have their own gatherings (churches), and their own organizations professing their beliefs. Sounds like a full-fledged religion to me. Moreover, they are ironically using our celebration of the birth of Jesus as an occasion for their own merry celebration!

As you see these billboards at busy intersections and public squares, keep in mind that we are not engaged in a fight against an atheist organization. We are clenched in a spiritual war against the forces of darkness:

“12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm”(Ephesians 6:12-13).

Intellectual persecution against Christians is here disguised under “separation of church and state” and it will continue to progress to more significant levels. We therefore need to “stand firm” and proclaim the Gospel with love and without shame.

What Would it Be Like to Hold Baby Jesus?

Every born-again Christian may have imagined at one point what it would have been like to live 2000 years ago and see the God-Man, Jesus Christ dwelling on earth.

To see Him as a baby, to see His ministry, to hear Him preach, to see Him carry His cross, to see Him on the cross…

If you could have been there to hold the divine baby in your arms… you would have held the One and only YHWH, the Lord God, the great I Am, the Holy One of Israel, the Son of Man, and your personal Redeemer.

At the same time that you would be holding baby Jesus, He would be holding “the universe by the word of his power” (Heb 1:3).  You would be looking at the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb 1:3).

You would be caressing the One who created all things (Col 1:16).  Your hands would be upon the “Everlasting Father” (Isaiah 9:6).

You would be holding the eternal Word, God Himself (John 1:1).

There was a man in Israel who had revelation from God, a man who understood things that we understand today by the Holy Spirit and the Bible about who Jesus was.  His name was Simeon.

Luke 2:25Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”

By the power of the Holy Spirit we understand today what Simeon understood 2000 years ago.  When we think about this great miracle we are overcome with awe and worship for God.

Holding baby Jesus would have been the act of holding God your Creator in your arms, and perhaps the ultimate act of worship.

At Christmas We Remember God’s Eternal Plan


The most profound, the most mysterious, the most wonderful plan ever conceived has to do with God’s intra-Trinitarian counsel to create and redeem humanity. The incarnation, death and resurrection of God Himself into the person of Jesus to save believers onto His glory is the center of this plan.

This mystery of human redemption is so great that under the guidance of the Holy Spirit apostle Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:12 that even angels “long to look” into this matter. These majestic, pure, and unfallen beings who live in the presence of God, long to observe the unraveling of this mystery, that is God’s redemptive plan for us.

Imagine the greatest movie ever produced, one that took many years to complete, the one with perfect ratings across the board, the one which everyone in the country awaits to see… That anticipation pales in comparison with the anticipation that heavenly creatures have in observing God’s redemption of humanity. That is why we, the subjects of this great salvation, must always keep in mind this eternal plan, especially when we celebrate Christ’s incarnation.

Before this world was corrupted by sin, before Satan and his angels fell, before the foundations of creation were laid, and before time became a dimension… in the greatest mystery ever conceived, God installed this plan of creation and redemption for His Glory. He knew that His beloved creation will fall and will need to be redeemed. In His omniscience, God foresaw this as revealed to the prophet Isaiah:

“The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him.” (Isaiah 59:15-16)

It is a special treat for believers to get a glimpse into God’s counsel as we observe past tense language used in this verse for a future event! Past, present, future… these are human considerations… God is not bound by time, therefore His counsel stands eternal.

Consider what Paul writes:

“7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:7-12)

As the born-again believer is faced with this realization, he or she is overcome by an awesome desire to worship the Redeemer, to give Him the all glory, to thank Him and to serve Him.

Let us remember God’s mysterious and eternal plan for us as we celebrate His incarnation this Christmas.

War on Christmas (part 1)

One of the nativity scenes at Palisades Park on display last Christmas. City Council’s unanimous voted June 12 put an end to the nearly 60-year tradition.

After 60 years of nativity scenes being displayed on public ground in the beach city of Santa Monica, CA, it appears that the tradition of erecting a booth about Jesus’s birth in a city park is coming to a close.  After a prolonged battle in the courts, the lawyer for the group of churches who are fighting atheist plaintiffs to keep the tradition alive has said that the battle has been lost.

One of the nativity organizers said:

“It’s a very sad day when a small number of people with an axe to grind, people who do not like Christianity, and who do not like God, are able to prevail by manipulating rules to censor our message from the public place where it has been displayed for the enjoyment of millions of people for nearly 60 years”

“It’s even sadder that a city government would allow itself to go along with this effort to try to snuff out a message that a small group of people did not agree with”

I will post more examples of this war on Christianity before the upcoming holiday season in the hope that it will sound off an alarm for the Church that this is the beginning of legal persecution of against Christians.  Once again, the Church needs to wake up and realize this is happening and pursue all avenues to fight it.  It starts with prayer and showing love to our neighbor, but it can move into the political and legal arena where we must vote for Christian principles, and possibly fight atheist groups in the courts.

The biggest irony here is that a country that upholds freedom of speech, and religion and who preaches religious tolerance is now beginning to turn against the religion of most of its founding fathers.  George Washington himself said in a speech to Delaware Indians in 1779: “You do well to wish to learn our arts and our ways of life and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention.” 

If the president of the United States would say this today to any group of people there might be riots and looting in San Francisco and Berkley in response, and there would be calls to impeach him.  But he would never say it, because in a TV interview he said he does not believe that [the religion of] Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation.  Despite this statement, he claims to be a Christian.

As believers in biblical truth, we must understand the reasons for these attacks against Christianity.  The proclamation of gospel truth makes unrepentant sinners very uncomfortable.  The Church’s stand against depraved lifestyles and sin makes it seem accusatory in the eyes of unbelievers, and this is a natural progression of what Jesus stated in Matt 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”  

The Word of God is a sword that cuts deep into the soul of the sinner.  There are only two possible outcomes: 1. the sinner is convicted by the Holy Spirit and will repent, or 2. he will be hardened and become an enemy of the Gospel and those who proclaim the Gospel.  The ones who remain ignorant, when pushed hard they will probably also hate Christians for teaching the truth about their depravity.  We are now seeing more and more the enemies of the Gospel fighting back against truth.

It is time for the Church to proclaim the Gospel boldly and continue to fight for its right to do so!