The Hope of Christmas

Introduction Christmas is an important part of the Christian calendar. God incarnated himself to save mankind. This story of human liberation has been commercialized and it is no longer about Him. We celebrate his birthday with a cake but Christ is not welcomed to His own party. Christmas is meant to bring ‘happiness’ but it brings such brokenness, pain and artificial joy. During this time of advent and Christmas, I invite you to receive God’s invitation for replenishment, nourishment and excitement. Jer. 2:13 “For my people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” God’s invitation In Isaiah 55:1-13, God offers joy and peace at no cost to anyone who will seek him in repentance before it is too late. There are three different drinks mentioned in verse 1 – water, wine, milk. The waters represent that which gives life; the wine represents that which gives joy, and the milk represents that which gives growth. God offers every sinner a fully abundant life. God offers every sinner a fulfilling, joyful, and purposeful existence. He offers any sinner a refreshing, fulfilling, happy, and developing life. All He asks is that you be honest enough to admit you thirst for it. In the Middle East, water was a premium commodity.

Having an abundance of water was considered to be a special blessing of God (Isaiah 41:17; 44:3). Wine, milk and bread were staples of the diet. What God does is offer them a free. Everything they were working for, God offers to give them by pure free grace. What God is saying here is completely foreign to every false religion. Every false religion presents the idea that you can be saved and fulfilled if you give it your best and if you try your hardest. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day had all kinds of things you could do to be right with God. The Islamic religion in our day has a strict list of demands which include prayers and pilgrimages and bizarre rituals to be saved. The Catholics have a merit system they have invented that if you follow, such as masses, money and candles, you will be saved. Many Protestants have developed their laws and rituals for guaranteeing salvation. All of these systems are based on the idea that sinful man can make a bargain with God. Salvation becomes, as Spurgeon once said, “an auction mart, where each man bids as high as he can … to procure salvation” (Spurgeon’s Sermons, Vol. 10, p. 93). God does not make deals with men. He offers free grace. God offers infinite, free grace without any cost to you at all. God doesn’t require your promises, your commitments, your works, or your pledges.

All He requires is that you recognize your sinfulness; and if you have a thirst for God, the moment you believe in Jesus Christ or turn back to Jesus Christ, that thirst will be fully quenched. Watercorresponds to the need for refreshment. When you are most thirsty and most desperate, most dehydrated it’s water that you want and nothing else. “He leads me beside still waters, he restores [refreshes] my soul” (Psalm 23:2). God invites you this morning to receive refreshment, restoration, reviving, and a new beginning. Milk corresponds to the need for ongoing nourishment. When someone is gasping for life, you give them water. But when you want a baby to grow day after day, you give it milk again and again. God is not just for emergencies and mountain peaks. He is for health in the long haul. He invites you not only to come alive with water but also to be stable and strong with milk. Wine corresponds to the need for excitement. We want to live and not die. We want to be strong and stable instead of weak and wavering. But that is not all we need in life. No matter how stoic, unemotional, phlegmatic, laid-back, or poker-faced we may seem to others, there is a child inside of every one of us that God made for joy/happiness—for shouting and singing and dancing and playing and skipping and running and jumping and laughing. Repentance lies at the heart of the gospel message. It is at this point that we must stop and examine the type of false gospel that seems to be sweeping over Christendom in our day. It is a gospel which sees no need for genuine repentance from sin. It has watered down the biblical demand for repentance to mean just an intellectual change of mind about who God is – as opposed to a fundamental inner change of heart and mind that leads to a change in action as we re-orient ourselves to the rightful Lordship of our God. Many Evangelists will call for a decision to receive Jesus as if He represents a life insurance policy against eternal punishment in hell – but only as a Savior who can be tacked on to your existing lifestyle as an accessory/ addition / attachment with no real conversion and life change. • We invent terms like carnal Christians to describe that vast multitude who have professed at some point in time some decision for Christ but have no fruit to demonstrate any life change. By elevating unity over truth, we have lowered the content of the gospel message to the lowest common denominator so that we can get more groups and missionary societies to work together. But the result has been a gospel that dethrones the Lord Jesus Christ. We have a gospel message without any emphasis on:

a) The character of God – especially His holiness

b) The law of God – what truly constitutes sin and how does the Holy Spirit convict men of sin? – it is not enough to try to convince men that they are not perfect – they need to see themselves at the core of their being as sinful

c) The necessity of repentance and what that involves

“Today men are properly told to confess their sins and to ask for forgiveness. But Evangelists and Pastors are forgetting to tell sinners to repent. Consequently, this misinformed age imagines that it can continue in its old ways of life while adding Jesus as a personal Hell insurance for the world to come.” – The true understanding of assurance of salvation deriving from the work of the Holy Spirit – not just promising them assurance based on some decision they have just made that may not have involved the new birth experience from a sovereign God. John McArthur “The gospel Jesus proclaimed was a call to discipleship, a call to follow Him in submissive obedience, not just a plea to make a decision or saying a prayer. Jesus’ message liberated people from the bondage of their sin while it confronted and condemned hypocrisy. It was an offer of eternal life and forgiveness for repentant sinners, but at the same time, it was a rebuke to outwardly religious people whose lives were devoid of true righteousness. It put sinners on notice that they must turn from sin and embrace God’s righteousness. It was in every sense, good news, yet it was anything but easy-believism. Acts 17:30 “God now commands all men everywhere to repent.” Faith and Repentance are always two sides of the same coin – where you find one, you find the other In conclusion, Oswalt alludes that It may seem that God should be unable to offer restoration to wicked people and that it would be futile to seek the Lord as the prophet is urging, but he says we should do it (Vv. 6-7) because: (1) Our understanding is not the measure of what God can do (Vv. 8-9); (2) God’s word is absolutely dependable [and efficacious] (efficient and effective) (Vv. 10-11); and (3) God promises wonderful results (Vv. 12- 13).

By: The Very Rev. Canon Sammy Wainaina

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*