The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What Can The World Expect To Experience Toward The End of The Age?

Jesus told His disciples what things would be like toward the end of the age. He said:


  • Matthew 24:4-14 – “And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.5 “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.6 “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.7 “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.8 “All these are the beginning of sorrows.9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.10 “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.11 “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.12 “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.13 “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” 

As we draw closer and closer to the end of the age, what will the world look like? What can the world expect to experience as we approach the end of the age? As we answer these questions, keep in mind that we disciples will see many of these things as we are in the deteriorating world prior to being raptured out of the world before the Tribulation period.


First, deceivers and false messiah’s in the name of Jesus (24:4-5, 11). Jesus actually mentions the rise of false prophets twice in His sermon. If He mentioned false prophets and deception twice, He must have felt we needed to be doubly aware of the danger such false prophets hold.


When leaving the Ephesian church the apostle Paul gave the following warning: “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.” (Acts 20:29; see also Peter’s words in 2 Peter 2). The Spirit inspired Paul to reiterate this later in his ministry when he wrote: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,” (1 Timothy 4:1-2). Again a double warning for emphasis; we need to pay attention to this.

False ministers of religion are proliferating at a rapid rate. There is a proliferation of lying signs and wonders in the world (2 Thessalonians 2:9). God states in His word that a time would come when people would reject His word and question the prophetic nature of it (2 Peter 3:1-4; Jude 17-18). And that is exactly what we see today.

There is much debate today over fitting, even squeezing the theory of evolution and its contention that the universe is billions and billions of years old into the Genesis account of creation. There are interesting presentations on both sides. Some exalt “science” over scripture as having the final word. That is a position proved wrong throughout history. Remember, the secular world once viewed the world as flat in opposition to scripture which presented the world as round (e.g. Job 26:7; Isaiah 40:21-22). How many times have “missing links” been “found” only to be discredited as frauds? Some fail to distinguish between micro adaptation and macro evolution. Christians seeking “relevance” with the world are running away from the literal truth of God’s word. If Creation is a miraculous work of God our Creator, then why couldn’t He create the world in days rather than billions of years? The debate goes on. The motives for the debate will be exposed and judged by God. There is nothing wrong with debate. However when debate minimizes the inspiration and authority of God’s Holy Word, the same Word that he exalts above His own Holy Name (Psalm 138:2), that is dangerous. Debate and our attitudes toward God and His Word can cross the line and offend the Holy One. And when that happens, it becomes an end time attribute of evil.

When we look at the impact of evolution on history and civilization we see it is the basis for much discrimination and immorality. Hitler and his Final Solution were based on evolutionary theory. Racial discrimination is rooted in evolutionary theory. This cannot be denied. There are some who would say “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” They’d say, “There is truth in evolutionary theory.” There is genuine interest in the nature of the universe. But there is also a lust for academic acceptance. Some would sacrifice scientific integrity for fitting in with the world’s view even if though the nowhere or at any time has any ordered thing come from a blast from the past. Order does not come from disorder. God is a God of order and the order of the universe points to God as its Creator (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40). Poppycock to the contrary is evidence of the deception in the End Times.

Secondly, wars and rumors of wars (24:6-7a). Is such a sign applicable to our world today?

The War Atlas (a publication of The Club of Rome which is a part of the European Economic Community) reports:


·         Since WW II there has not been a single day of peace on the planet.

·         There are 32 million soldiers on active duty (570 million in reserve).

·         50% of world’s scientists are working on weapons

·         40% of all money spent in the field of science is to research and develop weapons.

·         USS Pennsylvania, (an atomic submarine costing 3 billion dollars) carries 24 missiles each with 15 separate warheads (each can be individually targeted) and has 40 times more killing power than all combined weapons detonated in World War II.

·         For every person on earth there is 40 tons of TNT.


It’s estimated that in the Twentieth Century 180 million people died in war and conflict related activities. This is a far greater number than for any other century of recorded history. One web commentator put that number in perspective by stating:


“Let's say that you're the receptionist in the Afterlife (a 9 to 5 job, 5 days a week, with two weeks vacation -- which comes to 40 hours per week and 50 weeks per year), and it's your job to simply ask the name of each victim, enter it into a computer and direct them to Room 504 for processing (a task that takes 5 seconds, which means that you can process 720 per hour), and these 180 million people were to approach your desk one after another without letup.”[1]


There is no reason to believe that the 21st Century will be any better. Indeed since the year 2000 there has been constant and ever increasing amount of unrest in the world. This is due to Middle East conflict, the September 11th 2001 terrorist attack on the United States and its repercussions, world wide terrorism, not to mention the noticeable rise of China as a world power.


In the January 2002 issue of Whistleblower magazine, David Kupelian, in an article entitled Preparing for the Next War,” writes the following:


“Americans have been conditioned somehow to go into denial about the nuclear threat. Perhaps it’s the standard Hollywood depiction of a nuclear detonation as causing the annihilation of everything – the end of the world – that causes most Americans reflexively to roll their eyes.


The truth is: 1) There are currently thousands of nuclear weapons in the world; 2) They are coveted by dictators, jihad madmen and would-be superpowers; and 3) they are constantly under development (or their acquisition is being negotiated) by unstable regimes run by megalomaniacal leaders.


If we’re going to face the fact that evil people are striving mightily to obtain, and use on Americans, the most devastating weapons possible – and after Sept. 11, who could doubt their willingness to do so – we must also understand that their favorite, and ultimate, weapon is the nuclear bomb. Nothing else will do.


A nuclear bomb is what turns a psychopath into a superpower leader. Not smallpox, not anthrax, not sarin gas, not jet fuel. A nuclear bomb is to a hate-filled, charismatic figure like bin Laden what a 12-gauge shotgun is in the hands of a 15-year old girl facing an attacker: It’s the great equalizer.” [2]     


That was over a decade ago. Does anyone doubt it is any less true today? The rise of China as a world power, the economic troubles of Russia, the Islamic hellish pursuit of a global caliphate are just some of the ingredients that involve our present day wars and rumors of war.


Look at the most organized, mechanized, and wealthy terror group to date, ISIS – Islamic State in Iraq (or ISIL - Islamic State in Iraq Levant). This group is the result of the proliferation of the use of terrorism as a war strategy. The world through media has been exposed to the literal cutthroat beheadings of this group. They are well funded and equipped and have swept into the void left in Iraq by the premature retreat of United States peace keepers ordered by an administration that cares more about votes than victory. The rise of ISIS is evidence of the fall of American prestige and foreign policy credibility in the world. It will only get worse. We are living in an age of wars and rumors of wars.


Third, famines (24:7). Studies of the global environment show that deserts increase 14.8 million square miles per year which leads to less and less land to produce the food necessary to feed an ever growing world population. In the U.S., topsoil measures 3 inches. Topsoil in the U.S. used to be like it is in Canada, 10 feet. Globally there is less food in storage than there was in 1920. The world is constantly experiencing a state of famine in various areas of the world. We are living in an age of famine.


Fourth, pestilences (24:7). A “pestilence” is defined as, “a contagious or infectious epidemic disease that is virulent and devastating.” [3] the Greek New Testament word translated pestilence is loimos and refers to “a pest; pestilence; plague.” Pestilences are spread by transmission from animals such a rodents or it could be microscopic entities.


At present there is a worldwide outbreak of Ebola. While the spread of this pestilence is somewhat contained, it is expected to continue through 2015. [4] HIV/AIDS is still a major issue internationally as it results in 1.78 million deaths annually, which accounts for 3.1 percent of deaths in our world.  But it’s heart disease that still accounts for the greatest percentage of deaths in the world; 7.25 million deaths annually; 12.8 % of all deaths. [5] With all that is going wrong in the world it’s not surprising that a disease of the heart accounts for the greatest number of deaths.


Fifth, earthquakes (24:7). Major earthquakes doubled in 2014. While scientists attribute this development to random chance, it may by a sign that we are closer to the return of Jesus. [6]

Jesus said such natural upheavals are only the “beginning” of the birth pangs and sorrows that will come on the earth (Matthew 24:8; Mark 13:8). Is there any doubt that our world is going through some serious natural change? Meteorologists are having a more difficult time predicting the weather. The weather seems to swing on a pendulum of extremes. The point is that just as the labor pains of a woman who is with child increase as the delivery gets closer, so too the natural signs mentioned by Jesus will increase as the delivery of the prophetic fulfillment of the End Times gets closer.

Sixth, persecution (24:8-10).  Are Christians and Jews persecuted today? ISIS is systematically exterminating Christians. There is eyewitness evidence that this terror group has beaded children unwilling to renounce their faith in Jesus. [7] The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission reports that “Christians are the most persecuted religious group worldwide. An average of 180 Christians around the world are killed [murdered] each month for their faith.” [8]


Persecution of Christians is on the rise. Persecution is often covered up for political expediency by governments. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10). Those persecuted for their faith, those called upon to testify to whether or not they worship Jesus and to bear the life or death consequences are spiritually enriched as they offer themselves completely to their God as a living and then literal sacrifice. Persecution purifies faith (1 Peter 4:1). Persecution deepens faith (Psalm 66:10-12). We need to pray for the persecuted brethren throughout the world. We need to prepare ourselves for the likelihood of our own future persecution.  


Seventh, cold-heartedness (24:12). We live in a society where the law is continually weakened to pander to the lusts of people’s selfish fleshly desires. The laws of men are more and more in opposition to the Law of God. Laws legalizing such activities as Same-sex marriage is nothing less than licentiousness; the giving license to sin. Legalized abortion dehumanizes and cheapens life and even moreso as sonogram technology exposes the humanity of life in the womb and proponents of baby-murder insist on the “right” of a “mother” to rip up the “fetal tissue” within her. The sanctity of human life is steadily declining. The “love” of our day isn’t love at all; it is lust for hedonism.  The only “love” during the end times is an obsessive self-love (2 Timothy 3:1-7).

Ninth, the gospel will be spread throughout the world (24:14). This is a verse that has been often misinterpreted and greatly abused. The return of Christ is not dependent on our preaching of the Gospel throughout the world. The return of Christ will occur according to the Father’s set time. Many use Matthew 24:14 as a call to missions but the Gospel will be preached throughout the world during the Tribulation by 144,000 apostle Paul-like messianic evangelists (Revelation 7), two witnesses (Revelation 11), Tribulation saints  (Revelation 12) and angels who fly throughout the world warning against the antichrist (Revelation 14:6-7).


There’s scriptural evidence that the gospel being preached “in all the world” was fulfilled in New Testament times (cf. Colossians 1:3-6). This means that there is no outstanding activity that needs to be accomplished in order to usher in the return of Jesus. If there was, then Christ’s return could not be said to be imminent. It is misinterpretation of scripture to say that the rapture cannot occur for any reason. Jesus could come back at any time, even before you finish reading this study. Are you ready?


What do we do now? When we look at the world today in light of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24, it seems clear that we are closer to the end today, than ever before in the history of mankind. If that is so, what should we do? Jesus tells us: “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:13). Jesus instructs us to “endure to the end.” What does it mean to “endure”?

Enduring to the end. In Matthew 24:13, Jesus speaks of endurance. The word “endure” is translated from the Greek term hupomeno meaning, “to stay under; remain under; have fortitude; persevere; endure patiently; abide; endure; and suffer.”  We get a clearer sense of the word by examining it more closely. Hupomeno is a word formed by joining the prefix hupo to the term meno. The preposition hupo can mean, “by” or “under.” The word meno is translated, “abide.” To “abide” means, “to continue; abide; stay; dwell; be present; remain.” Therefore hupomeno communicates the idea of continuing-under/by; abiding-under/by; staying-under/by; dwelling-under/by; remaining-under/by.


Jesus particularly said His followers needed to “endure” when faced with persecution (Matthew 10:22). The agape love of God is defined in part by bearing or enduring all things (1 Corinthians 13:7). Paul testified he endured all things for the sake of the elect church (2 Timothy 2:10).  We should be willing to endure too.


Jesus is our Model of Endurance. Jesus is our ultimate example of endurance. He endured suffering and shame for the sake of the gospel. We are exhorted, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured [hupomeno] the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured [hupomeno] such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” (Hebrews 12:2-3).

As we see the endurance of our blessed Savior it moves our heart in the Spirit. As we look at Jesus we are reminded of our great personal saving relationship with Him. Jesus referred to enduring by relying on Him in this personal relationship when He used the word “abide.”

Enduring means Abiding. Jesus used this word to instruct the disciple on how to endure and persevere. “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32).  


Abiding in Christ is not merely something we do with discipline, intestinal fortitude or our own strength. No, abiding is done by relying on Jesus, staying by Him, continuing by Him, dwelling by Him, abiding by Him in the personal saving relationship He has blessed you with. Jesus explains this when He says: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”  (John 15:4-8).


Abiding in Jesus is simply living by the Spirit in close relationship and communication with Him. Abiding in Jesus is an ongoing, moment by moment process by which we endure to the end of this life. Jesus must become our all in all. The apostle Paul expressed this well when he said, “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28). Jesus is our all in all, He is our reason for living and that ultimately is what abiding in Him is all about. Abiding in Jesus is staying so close to Him that we stick to Him like glue. Abiding in Jesus means we are with Him and He with us at all times everywhere we go.  It is the Holy Spirit that enables us to endure in Christ (see Romans 8). There is one other way this is expressed.


Enduring is putting On Christ. Jesus said we need to endure. Spiritual endurance is abiding by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit in our personal saving relationship with Jesus. This includes relying on Jesus for our righteousness before God. We aren’t to strive to be right before God by good works. By faith we receive the righteousness of Jesus put to our account. Any good works we do is our response of loving appreciation for the righteousness provided in Christ by God’s grace. By faith we literally are to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:11-14). The next time you falter or get down or the enemy tries to trample you with discouragement, just abide in the love and righteousness of Jesus and you will endure. The love of Jesus is unconditional.

Blessed Endurance. It’s a blessing to endure with Jesus. There is no better way to live than to endure and live abiding in Jesus. James the half-brother of Jesus speaks of the blessedness of enduring in our faith when he is inspired to write: “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”  (James 1:12). Again James writes, “Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.”  (James 5:11). Who better to testify to the blessedness of enduring with Jesus than His own brother!

When he was at the end of his life, preparing to be executed for his faith, Paul told Timothy, “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.” That is a wonderful prospect and hope. But Paul also said, “if we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” In other words, if and when we falter, we can still repent and return to our Savior and He will receive us. Our faithfulness is secondary to His primary faithfulness (2 Timothy 2:11-13).

We may falter in our abiding, but Jesus will always be there for us to help us onward and through hard times. Abiding in Jesus is a blessed way to live one’s live, no matter the circumstances. Oscar Hammerstein II once wrote:

Give me some men who are stouthearted men
Who will fight for the right they adore.
Start me with 10 who are stouthearted men
And I'll soon give you 10,000 more. [9]

We need to be stouthearted and steadfast Christians as we see the End Times develop before our eyes. Paul was inspired to write: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58). That is how we ought to face the future. We may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future. Jesus holds everything together (Colossians 1:17). He is in control. He has a prophetic plan. And He is coming back! Be ready.



[1]   See
[2] David Kupelian, Whistleblower Magazine, January 2002 issue. Volume 11, No. 1. p. 6
[3]Merriam-Webster, I. 1996, c1993. Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary. Includes index. (10th ed.). Merriam-Webster: Springfield, Mass., U.S.A.

[4] Ebola Crisis Could Last Through 2015 as Marks Year Since Outbreak By Belinda Goldsmith

[6] Big Earthquakes Double in 2014, But Scientists say they aren’t linked by Becky Oskin
[7] ISIS beheaded four children: Christian Leader. By Marisa Schultz. New York Post. 12/12/14 -
[9] The New Moon © 1927

Monday, December 22, 2014

Just in Time

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son . . . – Galatians 4:4

Christmas is a busy time of year. We decorate both inside and out of our homes. We shop, shop, shop, and then wrap, wrap, wrap, and then probably drop, drop, drop. Then we hide it all and wait for the unwrapping frenzy. We take time to visit and to prepare for visitors. We rush here and rush there. We try to fit church into all of it but too often it is crowded out. There’s so much to do and so little time. Christmas is about waiting. Christmas is about timing. It’s been like that from the beginning.

God in His word says there is a time for everything (Eccl. 3:1). God has a plan. He has a plan for this universe, for nations and a plan for each individual (e.g. Jeremiah 29:11-13). God is orderly not chaotic (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40). He is not a fly by the seat of the pants God. God works things out in intricate details. God does things with perfect timing. The incarnation of Jesus is a perfect example of this.

We can take tremendous encouragement and hope from God’s orderliness. At times in life it seems as though things are out of control. We can’t make rhyme nor reason out of the events of life. But we can be sure that God is in control and He does have a plan that He is working out.

It’s true that it seems as though God stretches the faith of His people by waiting until the last possible moment to bring rescue and reason to the events of life. But even when things get harry, we can rest assured that God has a plan and just in time He will assert His will and authority to fulfill that plan.  

When I was a young boy I used to like to watch westerns. I was a devotee of Roy Rogers and his faithful horse Trigger. The Lone Ranger and Tonto were also high on my list of must-see programs. I also enjoyed watching the adventures of Rusty and Rin Tin Tin the German Shepherd dog. All of these characters had one thing in common that made them all worth watching. You knew that no matter how bad things looked, they would always save the day just in time.  

You may feel as though you’re in a hopeless situation. No matter how hopeless things look, God has a plan, God is in control, and God will save the day just in time. That doesn’t mean we won’t suffer loss. God’s plan and our plan conflict at times. What we have to remember in such situations is that God’s plan is the best plan. We have to trust the Lord’s leading and plan, even if it means we have to suffer in some way. God’s ultimate plan is to conform us to the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:29). That can be painful at times. But it is always worth it to wait on the Lord for we are His poetry, a beautiful work of art (Ephesians 2:10).

Jesus is a perfect example of how God works. What might seem as though it is just in time to us is right on time for the Lord. He works to the fullness of time according to His plan. And the fullness of time of the Lord is always just the right time. That’s what the apostle Paul is inspired to write in his letter to the Galatians where he states: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” (Galatians 4:4-7)


In Paul’s letter to the Galatians he argues against the idea that a person can make themselves righteous before God by keeping the law by good works. He argues that a person is justified through faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:16). He also argues that once a person is saved that they do not rely on their own effort and strength anymore than they did to be saved, but instead rely on the Spirit in them “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 3 and 5). The Holy Spirit is the Person of Trinity who brings us into the love of God. It is in the love of God that we find security and strength.

The Fullness of God’s Time - There is a time set by God for all things (Ecclesiastes 3). God is not One to dilly dally or meander around with no regard for timing. No, not at all, God keeps a schedule for His sovereign plans. There is an order to God’s universe. Our problem is that we are out of order because of sin. No matter how much you think you have your life together, without Jesus, you are out of order.

Historically it was just the right time for Jesus to come. Two commentators make the following observations about the timing of when Jesus came to be God with us:  “The proper time had arrived for both God and man. The time appointed by the Father and foretold by the prophets. It was a time of outward prosperity and inward corruption. The religions of the world were spiritually bankrupt, devoid of power to change men’s lives, and had degenerated into feeble superstitions and meaningless rituals. This “time” was when the Roman civilization had brought peace and a road system which facilitated travel; when the Grecian civilization provided a language which was adopted as the lingua franca of the empire; when the Jews had proclaimed monotheism and the messianic hope in the synagogues of the Mediterranean world.” [1]


Prophetically it was just the right time for Jesus to come. The coming of Jesus was in line with the timing of the removal from the Jewish religious leaders of the right to order capital punishment (Genesis 49:10), the prophesied forerunner (Malachi 3:21) and Daniel’s prophecy concerning Messiah’s triumphal entry (Daniel 9:24-27).

God Sent His Son Jesus – Preexistent Fully God - This portion of the verse tells us that Jesus existed in eternity before His incarnation (cf. also John 1:1, 2, 14-15). Jesus is “the King eternal, immortal, invisible, . . .God” (1 Timothy 1:16-17).

Born of a Woman – Fully Human - God foretold beforehand in the Bible by way of prophecy that the Messiah would be birthed uniquely, born of a virgin (cf. Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:31-35).

Jesus is fully God and fully Human. The significance of this is expressed in the following observation in a commentary: “This does not mean, however, that Jesus’ humanity is only a display case for His divinity. Jesus lived out His human life by experiencing all the pressures, temptations, and limitations that we experience (Heb. 2:18; 4:15; 5:2, 7–8). That is why Jesus’ life really is the supreme human success story (Heb. 5:8). Jesus was a pioneer (Heb. 2:10, NRSV), showing in practical terms the full meaning and possibility of human life, lived in obedience to God. In this respect, Jesus is a kind of second Adam (Rom. 5:14–15), marking a new beginning for the human race. Jesus would have performed a great work if He had done no more than set a perfect example. But His full humanity is also the basis on which it is possible for Him to represent us—indeed, take our place—in dying for us. The Bible makes this clear when it speaks of “one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:5–6).”[2]

Born Under the Law - A Jew - Jesus fulfilled and submitted to every requirement of the Law pertaining to His birth and calling (Luke 2:21-27; Matthew 3:13-15).

To Redeem Those Under the Law – Under the Curse of the Law- Earlier in Galatians Paul explains that those  who try to justify themselves by keeping law are obligated to keep every law. It only takes one broken law to condemn eternally. That is how high God’s standard is. God is holy. His standards of righteousness are far superior to ours. We can’t save ourselves. We need a Savior. That is why
Jesus came; to save us from the curse of sin and death (cf. Galatians 3:10-13).

Each person who has yet to be saved from their sin is under a curse of death (Romans 6:23).  It’s as though those who have yet to deal with their sin are prone in a guillotine looking up at a blade that is about to fall and slice away any hope of averting that curse. The curse of sin holds people in a dark state of being which is destined to spiral out of control into an ever more depraved sinful state (Romans 1:18-32).

You may be in such a state. It begins with total unawareness of being under the curse of sin. That’s because the god of this world (Satan) has blinded you to your sinful predicament (2 Corinthians 4:4). The beginning of the good news for you is that the Holy Spirit is reaching out to you to convict you and make you aware of your sinful cursed state (John 16:8-11). God’s desire is to turn you from your dark condition to the light of His word’; to show you that you are under the power of Satan but that there is a way to be saved from that by turning to God in faith. God has a rich inheritance waiting for you. All you have to do is trust Him to receive it (Acts 26:18; John 1:12).

Galatians 3:10-13 is inspired to reveal that the curse is clearly exposed by people’s inability to obey the entire perfect law of God. God is holy, just and good. Heaven is His abode and heaven is holy. God will never allow any sin into heaven because sin is like cancer; it spreads and grows worse by nature. God’s Law is holy (Romans 7:12). To prove our righteousness and worthiness for heaven some people seek to keep that perfect Law of God. But that is impossible. No can “continue in all things which are written in the book of the laws, to do them.” That puts us in a serious predicament as we are barred from heaven because of the curse of our sinfulness. But God has provided a way to deal with this sinful cursed state. We can be made “just” if we put our faith in God (3:11).

Saving faith is described with the acronym Forsaking All I Trust Him. As Paul explains, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),” (3:13). The curse of sin is death. But Jesus took our curse when He died on the cross (“the tree”). He is our Substitute (“having become a curse for us”). He has “redeemed” us, or paid off our penalty and all we need to do to receive the benefits of that saving work of Jesus is to put our FAITH in Him and accept His work on our behalf. Paul put it this way in another letter, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus did this just in time.  His redemptive work is just in time for those who have yet to receive Him as their Savior. God gives you the opportunity to be freed from this curse of sin now. But beyond now all bets are off and there are no further guarantees. The Bible says that “Now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). “Now” is just the right time for you to be saved from the curse of sin. “Now” is just in time for you.

That We Might Receive the Adoption as Sons – The Purpose of Jesus - The benefits of salvation are not only salvation from the curse of sin. God always goes above and beyond what we deserve. That is what the grace of God is all about (see “much more” in Romans 5). There is a rich inheritance awaiting those who receive Jesus as Savior.

Under Romans law a child that was adopted into a family had all the rights of a natural born child of that family. There was total equality between natural born and adopted children in the family.

While Jesus is the “only begotten Son of God” (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; Hebrews 11:17; 1 John 4:9), we can be adopted into God’s family as sons and daughters too. We will never be equal to Jesus in the sense that we become “God.” Mormons and New Age followers teach human beings can become “God.” No, we will never become “God” but we can experience the rich blessings of having God as our Father (2 Corinthians 6:18). This is God’s promise to those who put their faith in Jesus (Romans 9:8; Galatians 3:29). This adoption is attained through faith in Jesus (Galatians 3:7, 26). This adoption is purely provided by the grace of God (Romans 4:16, 17; Ephesians 1:5, 6, 11). Jesus is the One through whom this adoption can be worked (John 1:12; Galatians 4-5; Ephesians 1:5; Hebrews 2:10, 13). The Holy Spirit in a person is the evidence of having been adopted by the Lord (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6). The Holy Spirit bears witness in our hearts when we have been put into this adoptive position with God (Romans 8:16). And being led by the Holy Spirit in life is tangible evidence that we are God’s adopted children (Romans 8:14). When we are adopted into God’s family, we become the brethren of Jesus (John 20:17; Hebrews 2:11-12). Just think of that!

As adopted sons of God we experience the discipline and guidance of God. Indeed the discipline of God is evidence that we are adopted children of God and that He loves us (Hebrews 12:5-11). God’s desire for His adopted children is that they live holy lives (2 Corinthians 6:17-18; 7:1; Philippians 2:15; 1 John 3:2-3).

What does living a holy life mean? It means we will begin to become like our Father in heaven (Ephesians 5:1). It means we trust in God with a child like faith (Matthew 6:25-34). It means we will live to glorify God (Matthew 5:16). It means we will love to speak to our Father in prayer (Matthew 7:7-11). It means we will be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9) and have a forgiving and merciful spirit about us (Matthew 6:14, 35-36). Children of God seeking to live holy lives wont’ be hypocritical and ostentatious (Matthew 6:1-4, 6, 18).

The children of God have a rich inheritance to look forward to (Matthew 13:43; Romans 8:17; Galatians 3:29; 4:17; Ephesians 3:6). What we experience now in this life through our adoptive relationship with the heavenly Father is only the tip of the ice burg of our inheritance in Christ (see Ephesians 1:3ff.).

God’s sons are Spirit-filled - Paul goes on to describe more of the awesome benefits of being an adopted son of God saying, “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (4:6).


The night before Jesus went to the cross He met with His disciples and one of the last things He taught them about before He went to the cross was about the Holy Spirit. Jesus told His disciples that He was going to pray to the Father and that “another Helper” (literally “one just like Him”) would come to abide with them forever. Jesus said, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17)


Jesus used two prepositions in the above passage to describe the relationship of the Holy Spirit with people. The Holy Spirit is “with” a person prior to conversion communicating God’s “truth” and persuading them of their need of salvation (e.g. John 16:8-11). The Holy Spirit comes “in” a person when they accept Jesus as Savior by faith and are born again (John 3). The Spirit comes “in” a person to regenerate them with eternal life (John 20:22; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). And God’s inspired word uses a third preposition to indicate a further work of the Spirit on the believer. The Holy Spirit also comes “upon” a believer to empower them to serve the Lord (Acts 1:8; 2; 15:8-9). And throughout life we are to rely on a daily continuous filling by the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18; Acts 4:31). It is the work of the Holy Spirit in us to bring us fully into the love of God (cf. Romans 5:5, 8) and conform us to the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:29).


Not a slave but a son and heir - Paul concludes in verse seven saying, “Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” A slave is forced to obey; a son obeys out of love for the Father. A slave is motivated by judgment, a son is motivated by love (1 John 4:17). This is a key distinction to make in the life of the believer. A slave depends on his own strength; a son depends on and looks to his father’s strength and authority. A slave does not operate in the fullness of the benefits of the Father, a son does. Are you motivated by a fear of judgment or by the love of God?


How can we know if we are operating in the fullness of the Father’s benefits, in the fullness of the Holy Spirit in us? In Galatians five Paul contrasts “the works of the flesh” with the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:19-26). These verses tell us that love is the difference.  Paul writes a great deal about love in his letters (e.g. Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 13; 2 Corinthians 5:14-16; Ephesians 3:13-21). When we rely on our own strength like a slave the end product is often something that either looks like or is what is described in the Galatians 5 list of the “works of the flesh”: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)


That’s not a pretty picture. But that is exactly what we see in the world around us and too often in the church itself! Are you working in the flesh, in your own strength? If you are relying on yourself, these “works” will crop up in some way in thought, word or deed.


The fruit of the Spirit are wholly different: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:22-26)


All of this is what God wants to work in you. Isn’t it awesome? Isn’t it magnificent? And if you haven’t experienced the rich blessings of our inheritance as adopted children of God, now is just the right time for you to do so. What are you waiting for? God is reaching out to you. He may be reaching out to you just in time. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. No further opportunity is guaranteed or promised. Now is the time of salvation. Now, just in time, God is offering you the chance of a life time. In fact your eternal destiny is in the balance. Just in time God has come to save the day for you. Take His hand and join His family. Just in time is the right time for you to do this.


[1]Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc.) 1983, 1985.
[2]Ronald F. Youngblood, general editor; F.F. Bruce and R.K. Harrison, consulting editors, Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary: An authoritative one-volume reference work on the Bible with full color illustrations [computer file], electronic edition of the revised edition of Nelson’s illustrated Bible dictionary, Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1995.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Cost of Christmas

“. . . but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” – Philippians 2:7


Christmas is the most expensive holiday of the year. Statistics vary a bit, but The American Research Group [1] notes that over the last ten years (including this year’s projections) Americans have spent on average per person:

  • 2014 - $861 (predicted)
  • 2013 - $801
  • 2012 - $854
  • 2011 - $646
  • 2010 - $658
  • 2009 - $417
  • 2008 - $431
  • 2007 - $859
  • 2006 - $907
  • 2005 - $942
  • 2004 - $1,004
  • 2003 - $976

In a 2012 online article entitled How Much Do Americans Spend Over Christmas? It was estimated that in 2012 parents spent an average of $271 per child for Christmas. [2] In the same article in response to the question “How People Fund Their Holiday Shopping Spree” it stated: 65.8% will use salary or other income; 38% will use all or some of their savings; 29% will cash in coupons or rewards points; and 17% will borrow from another source.

In a 2011 Business Insider article by Andrew Shen entitled INFOGRAPHIC: Americans are Spending a Whopping $704.18 On Gifts This Year [3] it states Christmas is the “biggest commercial holiday in the United States. The United States is surpassed in Christmas spending by only one country, Luxembourg. Most people begin holiday spending before Thanksgiving; 38.9 % begin before Halloween; 51.4% of Americans begin Christmas shopping at least by mid- November. 152 million Americans planned to shop on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving. More and more retailers are opening their doors on Thanksgiving. 4.1% of people wait until the last two weeks before Christmas to shop.

Mr. Shen goes on to give the following further statistics in his article:

  • Worldwide $2.6 billion is spent on wrapping paper for Christmas
  • 1,220,000 letters from 126 countries are sent
  • The world’s most expensive Christmas tree is in the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. It is 43 feet tall and cost over $11 million to decorate. ($10,000 for the tree. $11.5 million for the jewels that ornament it.)
  • Individual spending for Christmas in America averages $704.18 per person
    • $403.26 spent on children
    • $68.23 spent on friends
    • $21.06 spent on co-workers
    • $23.39 spent on other gifts
  • 46.7% of shoppers shop online
  • Online shoppers will spend 22% more than in store shoppers
  • An average person will spend $26.52 on greeting cards
  • An average person will spend $96.75 on food and candy
  • An average person will spend $18.23 on flowers
  • An average person will spend $46.73 on decorations
  • An average person will spend $42.00 on a Christmas tree
  • In 2011 $52 billion was spent on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving)
  • 6% of shoppers say the most important factor in choosing where to shop is customer service. 14.6% say it is the quality of the merchandize. 41.6% say the most important factor in choosing where to shop is the cost of what they are looking to buy.

That’s a lot of spending no matter how you cut it!

The article also points out that 86% of adults say they believed in Santa Claus as a child. The average age for someone to learn that Santa isn’t real is 8 years old. 15% of children believe Santa is real past age 10. That’s sad because our focus shouldn’t be on Santa, it should be on the Savior Jesus. (Is it really a good idea as parents to deceive your children and distract them from the true meaning of Christmas? If you teach them a mythological figure like Santa is real now, when it comes time to teach them the truth of Jesus, why would they believe you if you’ve already brought into question your credibility as truth bearers?)

I don’t want to be Scrooge-like but there’s so much more to Christmas than money, Santa and his elves, and gifts. This holy day has been hijacked and converted into a secular holiday. I’ve got nothing against giving gifts. I’m a generous person and love to give gifts. Every good and perfect gift ultimately comes from God (James 1:17). But our gift giving shouldn’t cost Jesus His holy birthday.

Which brings me to the point of this teaching, have we truly considered the cost of Christmas for Jesus?   It cost Jesus a lot to redeem us. I wonder if there were times when He pondered just how much it did cost Him to provide a means of redemption for humanity. Let’s look at a few portions of scripture that may give us some insight into the cost of Christmas for Jesus.

It Cost Him His Home - He Left His Heavenly Abode

On one occasion when Jesus was in one of His many combative discussions with the Pharisees He said this:

  • John 8:23 - And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.

I read that and I wondered if Jesus was a little homesick. He left His heavenly home to save us. He left heaven to save us. That’s quite a step down: from the penthouse to the outhouse; from eternal place of privilege to temporal place of impurity; from cleanliness to filth; from limitlessness to the depth of limitations. He left His heavenly abode and reached down to lift us out of the miry clay, the muddy grimy goo of this fallen world.

What’s heaven like? Well it isn’t a boring place. When we enter heaven one day we won’t be sitting on a cloud strumming a harp in eternal ethereal dullness. Heaven is a place with the best of everything with no end in sight. Heaven exceeds our limited imaginations. If we look at just one city, “The New Jerusalem” we can catch a glimpse of what Jesus left when He left His heavenly abode.

Revelation 21 speaks of “the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:2). Just look at this chapter and as you see the revelation of Jesus about this heavenly city imagine not only the city itself, but the environment Jesus left.

Revelation 21

     Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.

What God will do at the culmination of history will be new for us, but not for Him.

2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

This will be a special day, like a wedding day. The City will be adorned like a bride; everything will be polished and new (not that there is any dust or dirt accumulation in heaven). The idea is that this is a special preparation for a special time.

3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

The first thing we see about heaven from this passage is that heaven is a place filled with the eternal presence of God. When Jesus came to dwell with us bottom feeders beneath, He submitted Himself to limited access to the Father as a Human Being. He had access but it was willfully limited as a Human. He is a picture of what relationship we can have with the Father now. But He is also a picture of hope for the greater eternal relationship and access we can have with God in heaven.

 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Heaven is a place with no sorrow, no regret, no pain, no DEATH. Imagine, we will never again have to face death; either for others, or ourselves. Jesus tasted death for us – “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9). Jesus left the place of eternal life to taste death and He did it so that we would have victory over death (cf. 1 Cor. 15:50-58).

5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

Heaven is a place of perpetual newness; nothing grows old there; nothing wears out; nothing becomes outdated or stuffy.

Heaven is a place that is the epitome of God’s truth and faithfulness. Everywhere you look you see the faithfulness and truth of God; you see how God is faithful to fulfill His true word.

Jesus left that to die for us.

6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

Heaven is a place of eternal sharing. Heaven is a place where all the beginnings and endings climax. And it is a place we shall inherit one day.

8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Heaven is a place WHERE THERE IS NO SIN! You will not find anything in heaven that causes pain or suffering. You will only find that which flows from the love of the Spirit. All sin will be eternally removed. THERE IS NO ONE IN HEAVEN WHO HAS DISREGARDED GOD’S WORD AND PERSISTED IN THEIR SIN.

9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. 12

Heaven is a place where everything carries with it a sense of the glory of God. Heaven is a “precious” place.

Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.

Heaven is a MAGNIFICENT PLACE. We will spend a good part of eternity in TOTAL AWE of God’s abode; Jesus’ abode; Jesus hometown and Holy City.

14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. 17 Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. 18 The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

Notice, what are rare precious jewels on earth below, are COMMON yet still precious in heaven.

In The Word for Today study Bible Pastor Chuck Smith comments: “The New Jerusalem is about 2.25 million square miles total. It is a 1,500 mile cube, as its ‘length, breadth, and height are equal.’ Now if you think of it as a skyscraper 1,500 miles height and 1,500 miles square, then you will get the feel for how bit it will be. Even if each floor is a half-mile high, the total surface area would be bigger than the landmass of the entire earth. And who needs half-mile ceilings? There will be plenty of room for you.”

Jesus left this incredible City, to be born in a stable, to sweat and toil, experience fatigue, toil, and work. Jesus left all this for you and for me.

22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. 24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. 25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). 26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.

Heaven is a place filled with the glory of God and WITH THE GLORIOUS LIGHT OF THE LAMB Jesus. Jesus left that for you and for me to shine His light into our darkness.

Heaven is a place of access and safety; there’s no crime there; there are no threats or dangers in heaven – “its gates shall not be shut.” Think about that. Jesus left that to live in perpetual danger.  


27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

The reason there are no dangers or threats there, the reason for the complete and total eternal safety, is that “there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

Jesus left all this for you and for me. Will you join Him there one day?

Now that is only one part of heaven. Multiply that by eternal immensity and the creativity of God and you only start to begin to understand what Christmas cost Jesus.

It Cost Him His Position – He Left His Throne

There’s another New Testament passage that is not regularly considered a Christmas message. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians he is inspired to write:

Philippians 2:5-11 - 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Christmas cost Jesus. It cost Him equality with God (2:6). At the point of the incarnation when the time had come for Jesus to come to live amongst humanity it states Jesus was (and is) emphatically “equal with God” (Phil. 2:6). Think about that. Equal with God; “equal” (Greek isŏs) in every way with God. He was Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Eternal, and Creator, full of glory – equal with God in all of that. You can’t get higher or greater than that. But then there is a “but,” He laid it all down.

Christmas cost Jesus. It cost Him His “reputation” (2:7). As God He had the highest and holiest, the greatest and most perfect reputation in the universe “but made Himself of no reputation.” Your reputation is who you are. People spend a lifetime building a reputation. Jesus spent an eternity building His reputation. And yet He laid it all aside. He came to earth and started all over. He came to earth willfully choosing to make Himself of “no reputation.” He left all His gigantic credibility and resources. He left His position of authority. He left His throne, the angels that worshipped Him in glory, the heavenly existence of perfection, and He came to fallen earth to live with fallen humanity. Christmas cost Jesus.

Christmas cost Jesus. It cost Him work (2:7). Jesus didn’t come as privileged royalty or a political elite, He came as a “bondservant, . . . in the likeness of men.” We glance over this but this was no small sacrifice. I have heard a Bible teacher illustrate this as God looking down on an earth populated by vicious dogs like Dobermans and pit-bulls and then becoming a Chihuahua to live among them and show them and die for them.  However you picture it, Jesus left an existence where He could simply effortlessly speak His will into existence. He left that to take on the likeness of a fallen human body; one that sweats and smells and gets’ tired and hurts and experiences pain. He came as a “bondservant,” to work out the ordained plan of redemption.

Christmas cost Jesus. It cost Him humility (2:8). It was humbling to leave a throne in heaven and become a man. There’s really nothing on this earth that could accurately illustrate such a cost. Not even a classic story like The Prince and the Pauper where a young king switches places with a pauper identical twin to see what living like the poor would be. Just look at the growls and elbows, the scowls and blank stares of shoppers at Christmas time – Jesus came to live amongst those kinds of people. And when you shop until you drop and your feet are blistered and swollen and your arms feel stretched to the floor from carrying bags of gifts, just remember, Jesus humbly came from a place where He encountered nothing that could tax Him to a body that regularly wore out.

And Jesus did this obediently. He submitted Himself to the will of the Father, even “to the point of death, even death on the cross.” He obeyed His Father in every way and on all occasions. He sacrificed, went without, served, kept His silence. He voiced God’s word and did all that the Father by the Spirit directed Him to do, even when it cost Him His life. He humbly obeyed even when it cost Him a death of being nailed to a hard sharp cross alongside common criminals and crucified in public for all to see. He obeyed even when on that cross His enemies mocked Him. He obeyed even when those He was dying for mocked Him and turned their backs on Him. There is no greater humility. Christmas cost Jesus.

For all this God exalted Jesus (2:9-11). For all this God exalted Jesus to the highest and holiest place. Everyone will one day “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” That’s the meaning and purpose of Christmas.

In light of the cost of Christmas for Jesus and His exaltation, have we truly considered the cost of Christmas for ourselves? The above passage about Jesus begins with the words, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Christmas will and should cost us. I’m not talking about running up your credit cards. I’m talking about what it means to live our Christmas with the mind of Christ.

After Paul speaks of the cost of Christmas for Jesus he continues and spells out practically what this means for us. He helps his readers to consider the cost of Christmas to those who follow Jesus by saying:

Philippians 2:12-18 - 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. 14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. 17 Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.

Christmas costs us. It costs us reverent obedience (2:12). Paul links his words with the word “therefore.” In other words, in light of the cost of Christmas to Jesus we should respond in the following way. The first thing Paul indicates is a proper response is obedience. The Philippians were beloved by Paul. They were trustworthy. Paul didn’t have to be there overseeing them, prodding them to obey every step of the way. No, they obeyed and “worked out” their “own salvation with fear and trembling. They lived in light of eternity. They lived in light of Jesus incredible cost of Christmas. They lived in holy reverent, even trembling, before the magnificence of what Jesus had done. They took the initiative and “worked out their own salvation,” they put Paul’s words into practice. That was the cost of Christmas for them.

Christmas costs us. It costs us faithful submission to God (2:13). Paul told the Philippians that their obedience and work wasn’t anything for them to brag about. Whatever they did was a result of God working in and through them “to will and do for His good pleasure.” They simply had to trust God to work in and through them. They simply had to submit to God’s doing for His good pleasure in and through them. It cost them their rights. It cost them self. It cost them.

Christmas costs us. It costs us being a light (2:14-16). Christmas costs us our complaining and disputing. It requires we surrender to the will of God. It requires we hold to a higher priority than mere unfair circumstances or injustices. The priority is to be blameless and harmless unlike those in this “crooked and perverse generation” who complain and dispute as a way of life. No, we are to live “among” the lost and dark world in a way that “you shine as lights in the world.” We are to be lights in darkness. That doesn’t just mean putting up some pretty ornaments outside our homes or on our windows or on a green evergreen tree (or artificial facsimiles thereof). It means we reflect Jesus and live with the light of His mindset of sacrifice, humility and obedience. It means we live, “holding fast the word of life,” and doing it joyfully and in a way that ministers like Paul who serve will be able to “rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”

Christmas costs us. It costs us our life (2:17-18). Paul was being poured out like a drink offering when he wrote this letter. He was being spent. He was giving up his life in a way that he wouldn’t be able to get it back. He gave himself to God by serving the Philippians. We serve God by serving others. You can only do that when you have truly committed your life to Christ. Christmas costs you your life!

Christmas is expensive.

But in the end all of this, what Christmas cost Jesus and what it costs us should result in joy. “For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.” Rejoice in the cost of Christmas! Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain, He washed me white as snow.” And we pay our cost of Christmas to our Lord joyfully. When you truly consider the cost of Christmas it will inspire you to count the cost and live your life as a sacrifice of loving appreciation to the one who gave His all for us. The cost of Christmas? Jesus died for all that those who live through Him should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for us (cf. 2 Cor. 5:14-16). Have you truly considered the cost of Christmas?

One last question: What do we have to do to spend eternity with Jesus in His heavenly abode? Let’s return to that first verse we considered and read on a bit:

John 8:23-24 - 23 And He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

If we don’t want to die eternally in our sins, we need to turn (repent) to Jesus and trust Him and Him alone as our Savior/Redeemer. Do that and your name will be in the Book of Life. It’s all a gift of God’s grace through faith in Jesus. The greatest cost. The greatest gift.