December 21, 2017

 

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The Last Christmas Message


 

Atop the Crystal Palace

Once upon a time, in the years of the great revivals, a man was working atop the gigantic glass roof of the Crystal Palace in London. He was a sinner; his relationship with the Almighty was broken. He’d been concerned for the state of his soul for some time – since he’d been working on the roof. As he peered down through the glass, he thought of how easily he could fall – how easily he could die. Great panic descended on him. He had to find salvation! He had to find salvation now! When he made that decision as he worked, something supernatural happened.

At that very moment, he heard a loud voice like a trumpet call – it seemed to come out of nowhere. The voice vibrated the glass roof, and spoke these words:

The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Messiah Yahshua came into the world to save sinners!”

To that solitary man on the top of a glass world, this was the voice of the Almighty Judge resounding directly from heaven. It shook him! Those words reverberated in his head, over and over, until, with great tears of repentance, he lay face down upon that glass roof, humbly beseeching the Holy Spirit to come into his heart and cleanse him thoroughly – to save him. He became a justified man.

The fact of the matter was that the famous Victorian preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, was booked for a meeting later that night in the Crystal Palace. He’d come in this midday to try out the acoustics of the place, loudly preaching the quote from 1 Timothy 1:15. But for the man on the glass roof, this was no rehearsal. It was the answer to an unspoken prayer; it was the heavenly voice calling him to full repentance, and in the very nick of time – {slow} up there on top of that glass roof.


 

Behind the Christmas Symbols

Christmas, the season meant to turn the minds of men to the babe in the manger, has come round again, and this year it’s more controversial than ever – with demonstrations both for and against religious symbols in public. In some places, even referring to “Christmas vacation” or displaying red and green lights are taboo. Even some atheists are rebelling against those who would relegate Christmas to the dumpster. (Messiahina Adams, “An Atheist's Faith in Christmas”) Imagine atheists standing up for a historical feast of Messiahendom! What a world we live in! {More on this next time with “Who Put the X in Xmas.”}

¿What might we say to that person who sees Christmas symbols as merely trademarks of organized religion, a breech in the wall between church and state? Could we choose a better saying than that which thundered to the roof of the Crystal Palace over a hundred years ago? “Friend,

The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance,

that Messiah Yahshua came into the world to save sinners!”

Herein, we find the kernel of the Christmas message. It looks something like this: behind the religious symbolism, this word introduces:

The most wonderful kind of Salvation – a salvation for “sinners,” the category into which all persons of our generation snugly fit, whether they believe it or not;

The most wonderful kind of Savior – an eternal personage who came from the vast depths of space into our world out of love in order to save doomed sinners from destruction; and

The most wonderful message this Savior bears regarding such a great salvation; “worthy to be accepted by all,” no matter where the person stands on religious issues; it’s worthy of acceptance by virtue of it being the truth, regardless of any religious jibber-jabber.

A Most Wonderful Kind of Salvation, a Salvation for Sinners.

This salvation isn’t primarily a rescue from poverty, sickness, war, ignorance, circumstances, loneliness, or from bad government. Most people seem to think that these are the things from which they most need to be saved. But eventually, as they mature, people come to see needs differently. Like the workman on the glass roof of the Crystal Palace, people start seeing that there’s a singular evil behind all those other things – an evil that constitutes the origin of all bad things. The Bible calls this original evil “sin.” I’m not talking about what psychologists or theologians call sin, but the plain, stark, old-fashioned Bible sense of the word – “sin is the transgression of Yahweh’s law,” whether out of intention or ignorance. Behind everything that’s bad is someone’s disobedience to that which is good. ¿Could the solution for the world’s problems be as simple as that?

Behind It ALL Is Sin

Ours is an age of disillusionment – of relativism and opinions – of perplexity and confusion – of war. All the prognostic pride of humanists, the fancies of philosophers and fond predictions of theologians which ushered in the twentieth century – the century of world peace (so they thought) – have been ridiculed by world wars of such shocking vastness and vileness that the brave notion of a twenty-first century, man-made utopia is beyond the absurd. Our world has been in upheaval for over a hundred years. Society’s been shaken down and arisen again a completely different character in our time.

But one important characteristic that the society of yesteryear and of today have in common is SIN. Behind all the brutality, calamity and agony of our modern world is SIN – disobedience, transgression – unwillingness to give Yahweh his place. The world still pins all hope on big government, big reform, big business, big diplomacy, big entitlements, big budgets, big machines, big hair – when all the time all the world really needs a small and solitary Savior.

And she shall bear a son, and thou shalt call his name Yahushua;

for he shall save his people from their sins.

Some people are finally beginning to realize that, as the Psalmist already pointed out, “the horse is a vain hope: it can’t save.” Big, powerful things and big, powerful people can’t save any more than a horse. Only a heaven-sent little Hercules is able to rescue humankind from the curses of SIN and INIQUITY.

It’s pathetic how thinking people will bluff and shuffle and pretend that this isn’t the case; that there’s some other reason for the tragedies of our world – of our lives – when all the time, deep down, they know – they surely know – that the cause is SIN. It takes courage to express the truth, because the truth is every bit as unpopular with some today – AS Christmas.

Save Sinners?

Yet the words of Paul to Tim stand; that

The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance,

that Messiah Yahshua came into the world to save sinners!”

Some might say, “Sinners are rebellious and undeserving of divine goodwill.” True! Millions of sinners don’t want to be saved so long as they can “enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25). But sinners not only need pardon for disobedience, but deliverance from their natural bent towards sinning – that which we call “iniquity” – a perverse, inward, unclean twist of inherited badness. And – sinners need saving not only in real time, but in all time – even in the afterlife – a state of affairs that may have neither beginning nor end. Sinners must be saved from being judged at all – not to speak of the consequences of judgment – which may take the form of the burning trash heap the Bible calls Gehenna or Hell.

Who Can Save?

WHO CAN RESCUE THE SINNER FROM INIQUITY, FROM JUDGMENT, FROM CONDEMNATION? WHO CAN SAVE THE SINNER TO SUCH A LOFTY DEGREE? Look once again at the text and consider the most wonderful Savior ever known; it says, “Messiah Yahshua came into the world.” The title “Messiah” links this Savior right back into the Hebrew Scriptures. Messiah means “Anointed” or “Smeared One” – he’s the appointed King sent earthward on a divine mission – to be the Savior of the World – as foreseen in prophetic truth of both the righteous and the heathen.

He’s the One “whose goings forth have been from of old, even from everlasting” (Micah 5:5); the One whose name is “Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty El, the Everlasting Father, Prince of Shalom” (Isaiah 9:6); the very same soul predestined to be “Ruler in Israel” (Micah 5:2) and a “Savior unto the very ends of the earth” (Micah 5:4).

His wonderful name, the name we say as “Yahshua, “ is the exact equivalent of the name “Joshua,” pronounced correctly as “Yahshua” – as we’ve learned to call him. Even his name means “Yahweh’s Savior.” This Savior might have been given a more resplendent, high-sounding name, like Englebert Humperdinck Elohenu the Fourteenth; but no! The messenger’s instruction to Mary (Luke 1:31) and to Joseph (Matthew 1: 21) was that they should be known as “Yahshua,” a name as common then as “Joshua” is now; a name that makes Him (in a very real sense) one with the commonest of common folk. Folk like us. Emmanuel! Oh, what music accompanies the messenger’s news, “Thou shalt call His name Joshua, for he shall save his people from their sins.” Amen and amen.

He CAME Into the World

Yahshua Messiah came into the world,” says our text. He came.

Though he was born, he wasn’t merely born. He “came” here, which means he came from a world outside our own. His birth in Bethlehem wasn’t his beginning. Before the child of Miriam and Yosef, he was already “the beginning of the creation of Elohim” (Revelation 3:14). Before this planet was formed, this Savior had his being. With that first tiny baby-breath of cold night air, the King of Ages appeared from beyond the planets to dwell with us as blood-kin; as family! He who gave the stars their names and flames became an infant of skin and bone.

Messiah Yahshua came into the world.” He knowingly, voluntarily, and compassionately came – to the ugly, to rebels, to rude refusals – to all those who desperately needed him yet spitefully spurned him. He came right into the center of calamity, to live our life, to share our lot, to feel our woe, to bear our sin, then to show us the love of his Father despite our disobedience! ¿Where does salvation begin? That’s where salvation begins!

Moreover, when he came, he came to stay as One Of Us forever. He’s still “Joshua”; he still “saves His people from their sins.” His humanity is no mere transitory or temporary identification, now discarded. His manhood is in some respects a forever condition; and he’ll continue to save all humankind who’ll receive Him – forever and ever, amen.

I heard the story of a young man who was lost in disobedience and hard living. He had an experience not unlike the workman on the roof; the young man came to see his sinful condition to reached out to the only one who could save him. He too heard the reverberating voice,

The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance,

that Messiah Yahshua came into the world to save sinners!”

and he responded in a way that required he tell somebody about it immediately.

He called an older man he respected – a man he knew was praying for him – a man who’s sitting in this hall today – to tell him of his change of heart. What a wonderful Christmas present – the birthing of Bethlehem’s babe in a young man’s heart. But it shouldn’t have been such a surprise. After all, the mentor here called this young man forth like Spurgeon heralded the man on the glass roof: through the bugle call of prophetic prayer – prayer that sounded all the way down the road to the heart of a lost soul in Pensacola, by way of heaven.

Prince Edward and the Disfigured Soldier

Is it really true – that Messiah Yahshua came into this world to save sinners? Yes it is; it’s a “sure saying”; it’s completely trustworthy. Certainly not all teachings that floated about in early Messiahian days were such models of accuracy and brevity; but this one was. It’s still sure in every single syllable; it’s “worthy of full acceptance.” What was true then is absolutely true now.

Consider Queen Elizabeth’s late brother, Prince Edward. He was a very compassionate man. In his youth, the prince decided to visit a hospital where thirty-six badly wounded veterans of the Great War were being tended. Though each case was hopeless, Edward visited at each bed, shook hands with the vet (if hands he had), and spoke words of encouragement. When he’d finished and they ushered him out, he said to the head nurse, “I understood you had thirty-six patients here; I’ve seen only twenty-nine.” The nurse explained that the other seven were so disfigured that he’d not been taken to visit them for the sake of his own feelings. But the prince insisted, and they turned around to visit the rest. Again, Edward thanked each soldier for the sacrifice he’d made and assured them all that their heroism would never be forgotten.

They started to go, but Edward confronted the nurse again. “I’ve seen thirty-five men. Where’s the last?” He was told that nobody could see that man. Blind, maimed, dismembered, with the most hideously disfigured face of them all: he was isolated in a place he’d never leave alive. “Please, sir; don’t ask to see that one,” the nurse begged. But the prince couldn’t be dissuaded, and the nurse reluctantly led him down the gray corridor into a stuffy, dank cell.

The royal stood there, his face white, lips drawn, looking down upon this horror that had once been his valiant soldier. Then tears broke forth, and with true princely demeanor, Edward bent down and reverently kissed the bloodied cheeks of the broken hero. How many of us could have done that duty of love?

Prince Yahshua Humbled Himself

There are few stories that so adequately illustrate the compassion of our Savior. Yet our Savior, the man of heaven, stooped far, far lower (when you think about it), to kiss a far, far greater ugliness: the leprous, evil repulsiveness of corrupt sinners and hardened rebels against a loving Father’s law of liberty and infinite kindness! No, there’s never been a story to equal this! Descending from cosmic royalty to a dingy manger’s stall, a life of rejection, the hands of a vicious mob, a torture stake – such is the gracious, compassionate, redeeming kiss of the condescending Prince of Heaven upon these sinful hearts of ours.

Thank heaven! “Yahshua the Anointed One came into the world to save sinners!” Maybe now this simple saying possesses more gravity, more meat, more reverence for you than ever before. Is it not “worthy of all acceptance”? To refuse his humility, would it not be the most unworthy and ungrateful behavior in which we could possibly engage? Friend, you may receive this best and biggest and dearest of all Christmas gifts right here and now; for it’s a sure saying and true – Messiah Yahshua came into the sinful world – to save you and me. Let him do what he came for. Hear his urgent voice, embrace is timely call, and then …

Praise The Saviour, All Ye Nations

Praise the Saviour, all ye people, Praise Him, all ye hosts above;

Shout, with joyful acclamation, His divine, victorious love;

Be His kingdom now promoted, Let the earth her Monarch know;

Be my all to Him devoted, To my Savior all I owe.

See how beauteous on the mountains Are their feet, whose grand design

Is to guide us to the fountains That o’erflow with bliss divine,

Who proclaim the joyful tidings Of salvation all around,

Disregard the world’s deridings, And in works of love abound.

With my substance will I honor My Redeemer and my Lord;

Were ten thousand worlds my manor, All were nothing to His Word:

While the heralds of salvation His abounding grace proclaim,

Let His friends, of every station, Gladly join to spread His fame.

Benjamin Francis (1734-1799)