It is easy to become preoccupied with Christmas shopping, decorating, and holiday activities, but we must never lose sight of what happened two thousand years ago. In this message, Dr. Stanley revisits the story of Jesus’ birth and explores the many names and titles given to our Savior.
When we grow in our understanding of His story, we can better explain the true meaning of Christmas.
start your day off, right with the free in touch devotional subscribe today, if someone should ask you tell me what christmas is all about, what would you say, would you have a biblical answer, Would you just simply have a worldly answer? What’s it really all about? Someone says well it’s all about jesus, well like what about jesus, what’s it really all about? I think there are a lot of people who do not understand what christmas is about because they’re confused and the primary purpose for this message is to eliminate that confusion. So when somebody says well jesus, christ is our savior, what does that mean? Or that jesus christ was born of a virgin, what does that mean? And so there are lots of questions and oftentimes we’ll hear people say well we can’t read the bible anymore and we can’t even have a bible on our desk or we can’t have when it work and so forth, you know why they’ll say well it’s okay to believe in God, but this jesus stuff doesn’t count. So you you can’t talk about jesus here or there or wherever it might be, you know why, because they don’t understand who he is and secondly, many people do not understand what christmas is all about. So this message is very simple, I want you to understand what’s really involved when we talk about christmas and who jesus is and some of the terminology that oftentimes just gets on the background and we forget what it’s really all about. So I want you to turn, if you will to Luke chapter two and in the first part of this chapter is about the birth of jesus. and beginning in verse eight, I want us to start with that, he says in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they were terribly frightened. But the Angel said to them, Do not be afraid. But behold I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to all the people for today in the city of David, there has been born. Now listen to this. There has been born for you. A savior. Who is the christ, The Lord, This will be assigned to you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger and suddenly there appeared with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom he is well pleased. You know, people oftentimes don’t understand what really happened. In fact, the most tragic part is that they don’t understand who jesus is and if I just picked up the bible and read this a few verses, neither would I because it’s not really all that simple. And I think one of the primary reasons many people are not saved is because they only have a smattering of the gospel, just a little bit, we say believe on the Lord, jesus christ now shall be saved. Well, I think uh that’s pretty clear, but what’s the difference between the father and the son? What’s the difference between God and jesus? Who is this messiah that you talk about and who is this Lord that you say that I must believe in, what in the world is all of that about? Well, I’ll tell you, I want to answer that this morning. It’s all about the most awesome event in human history. It’s all about the truth of who Jesus, is who God, is who the Holy Spirit is and what God is up to and why he says what he says for example in this 11th, first for today in the city of David, there has been going for you listen a savior who is christ the Lord. So there are three names right there Savior, christ Lord, what’s the difference in those, which one of these am I supposed to believe in? And so there are people who honestly do not understand, do not believe and are confused. So we want to clarify that and when I think about this passage and I think about how awesome it is and I think about what people are thinking about this christmas and usually people thinking about that, you’ve already said in fact that they started months ago, they’re people who started christmas shopping months ago and they asked him why I haven’t got anything to do with jesus or the birth of christ or anything christmas is all about, jesus, jesus is all about saving you, jesus is all about changing your life. Jesus is all about a brand new beginning, jesus is all about eternal life. Jesus is not about shopping, presents, drinking, carousing, partying and all the other things that we let take so much of our christmas time doing who is this jesus and what what’s the difference in all these words? So when I think about it I think about the nature of this gift and that tells us something about how important it is and usually it would be true. The importance of something is determined by who does the introduction that is who’s making the announcement. The scripture says an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone round about them and then the angel said so think about this, whatever this message is, it wasn’t some ordinary person who announced it. The birth of jesus was announced by a heavenly angel sent by Almighty God to give direction and to give explanation what was going on. And so very important that we understand who made the announcement and the good news was which something uh in those days they didn’t hear much of if you lived in a roman empire. It was difficult, harsh hard, there’s no joy in that and survival was the name of the game. Joy was something that was a strange phenomenon in the roman empire. It was tough, rough power beaten down and all the rest Joey. Where does that come from? So the angels talking about joy and I love what Peter said in 1st Peter in this first chapter. And if you want to turn to some of these verses, wonderful when he when he describes this, he says, and though you have not seen him, jesus, you love him. And though you do not see him now, but believe in him, you greatly rejoice with Joy inexpressible and full of glory. Who is this jesus that you accepted as your personal savior maybe years ago or that you hear people telling you that you ought to have him in your life? Who is he? And you see one of the reasons some of you have never accepted christ is because you don’t have any idea who he is. You’ve just gotten smatterings of the gospel. Well you tell somebody, well my testimony is that uh somebody witnessed to me and I don’t know what that means. Either somebody witnessed to me and told me about jesus and accepted him as my personal savior and I have eternal life? My name is written in the lamb’s book of life. What’s eternal life? What’s this lamb’s book and what’s this, what’s this thing about it being in heaven. So I want you to grasp something today. I want you to understand that the world has lots of reasons to be in question because we only give them a smattering of the gospel and and if and if I think about what people say, if that’s all I heard, I’m not sure I’d be a christian all these years. So let’s think about it for a moment. And when the scripture says a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, so that’s the way God sort of put up, put a crescendo to the message. And I think about what people think in terms of a multitude, you know what a multitude is. A multitude is innumerable as far north as you look, as far south as you look, as far east and west as you look, you can’t count them. There is no end. When God announced the birth of jesus, he put on the biggest display the world will ever know about announcing the Lord, jesus christ birth. That in itself will tell you something about his importance and his message of importance today is born to you in the city of David, a savior who is christ the Lord. And so when we talk about identifying this gift, uh, let’s talk about several words used and the first one is the savior. Whoever this is God said he was a savior. A savior from what a savior from our sins, those things that destroy people’s lives that destroy your life, A savior for those people who one of these days are going to die, which is all of us and we’re gonna spend eternity somewhere, ignore the Savior, refused to believe the Savior. And you’re gonna be eternally separated from the one who created you, who is almighty God. And you’re gonna be punished according to your sins. God gives us his warning. So and I think in terms of a savior, I just want you to follow me through several passages of scripture and thinking in terms of that. So turn if you will to first peter and look, let’s look in uh the first chapter here. And I want you to notice a couple of verses chapter one and verse 18 and listen to what he says, knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver and gold from your futile way of life, inherited from your forefathers. That’s just the way that you’ve been living, but with precious blood as of a lamb unblemished and spotless the blood of christ. Who is this christ? He says, this is the way you’re forgiven of your sins as a result of the shedding of his blood. The scripture says for he was four known before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last days for your sake, who threw listen he says the sake of you, who through him are believers of God who raised him from the dead gave him glory. So that your faith and hope are in God. So think about this, this savior of ours is the son of God who laid down his life on the cross. And that’s the way we’re forgiven of our sins because of his, what we call his atoning death. And then if you turn to Ephesians chapter one for a moment and these officials have awesome verses in the first chapter of Ephesians, The scripture says in verse seven in him, that is the beloved in Christ, we have redemption, forgiveness cleansing. We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished on us in all wisdom and insight that is in order for a person to have a right relationship with God. God had to do something. And he sent his only begotten son jesus into the world, not for the purpose of being an example, but for the purpose of dying. And he was born of a virgin. He didn’t have an earthly father. He was absolutely sinless. The only way he could come into the world and be sacrificed for our sins as to be absolutely sinless. And so we think in terms of jesus being a sacrifice. Then if you turn on all the particular questions uh chapter one and look at look at these verses, they’re all talking about jesus and who he is and and why he came and so forth. And if you look in the beginning in the 13th verse, the scripture says he rescued us from the Domain of Darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved son, in whom we have redemption. The forgiveness of sins. There are only two kingdoms, the Kingdom of Light and the Kingdom of Darkness. Now watch this. Whether you understand it or not, you are either walking in darkness. Are you walking in the light of the Gospel of christ? If you have never trusted him as your savior, no time for God. Don’t understand who jesus is. You’re walking in darkness, you’re not happy. You put up with a lot of things, you hurt and you go through situations and circumstances that you don’t really like in life. In fact, you find yourself mired up and trying to find happiness and peace and joy. So what is he saying? He says, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins. He’s the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation. And so the scripture is very clear about who jesus is. He’s the son of God. Watch this. There is only one true God. Now there are lots and lots of gods in the world always have been, But there’s only one true God. So this is the scripture says here, God has given us some that we someone that we are to share with the whole world. In the 24th chapter of Luke. Listen to what he says Jesus before he had ascended, he said that repentance and forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all the nations beginning from Jerusalem, you to be witnesses of these things. And behold, I’m sending for the promise of my father upon you, but you have to stay in the city of Jerusalem until you’ve been clothed with power from on high. So that interjects somebody else. Well, who is this? That’s coming to empower us to talk about, jesus, That is the holy spirit, because he’s the one who gives us understanding and helps us understand who he is and what this is all about. And he’s the one who watched this, he’s the one living within us who empowers us to understand, empowers us to speak and to preach empowers us to bear witness. He’s the one who empowers us through the difficulty and hardship, trial, pain, and suffering and whatever. And we come out smiling because we know who lives within us, the person, for example, who’s never been to church, or even if they have multitudes, millions of people in this country, have never been to church. They’re not interested in church, not interested in God. Now, there are probably a lot of reasons, but one of the primary reason is listening. They don’t know who he is and the reason they don’t know who is is because no one’s ever explained who he is doesn’t mean that some people don’t understand that many of us do, but the majority of people don’t know who he is. We not only ourselves need to desperately understand what we believe and why. And we also need to be able to say to others, this is what the scripture teaches and there are no conflicts. And so he’s our savior. And the scripture talks about not only our savior, but the the scripture talks about jesus being the christ and and in in our scripture here for example, he says that’s born for you today, A savior who is christ the Lord. Okay now wait a minute savior, christ who is christ. That word means the anointed one, the anointed one, the Lord jesus christ who walked among men, jesus christ the same look if you will, in in Colossians chapter two in verse three the scripture says speaking of christ himself in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, I say this so that you will, no one will delude you with persuasive arguments that is. When you understand who jesus is, you begin to understand what life is all about. You begin to understand who God is. You begin to understand what the Holy Spirit is about. Things begin to fall in place. When you understand who jesus is, this is what he’s saying and whom are hidden, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge don’t let anyone delude you and I think there are many christians who gets saved. They understand that jesus being their savior, but they never learn how to walk, they never understand, they don’t take the time to understand. Okay, now I hear about these other terms messiah Lord uh God, Holy Spirit christ how do how does all this fit together? The reason that fits the other is because of the oneness of the Godhead God, Almighty God the father God the Son God the Holy Spirit, three persons of the Godhead. So they said, well do you all believe in three gods? No, it is God who expresses himself, his father, son and Holy Spirit. And so when you trust the Lord, jesus christ as your savior, you get more than just forgiveness of your sins. You get a heavenly father. You have listen, you receive the power of the Spirit of God within you to enable you to become and to do all that God would have you to become and do. And then of course there is the word uh the Lord. So think about this in this in this announcement and the announcement came with, there has been born for you a savior. Okay, forgive my sins. Who is christ the messiah, the anointed one. The Lord. Now what’s the difference between those three are these three different persons? No, they’re not, jesus is the messiah, jesus is the christ and jesus is the Lord. But I want you to look if you will in John Chapter eight for a moment And I want you to see that there’s no confusion in the Bible about all this. In John chapter eight and um look, if you will, as jesus in this eighth chapter, especially eight chapter here, explaining who he is and how he’s working with the father, listen to what he says in the 19th verse, he said, he said in verse 18, I am he who testifies about myself And the father who sent me testifies about me. So they were saying to him in verse 19, where is your father? Jesus answered, you know neither me nor my father, If you knew me, you would know my father also. And so somebody says, I, I don’t get it, how you can have a father over here, jesus here and the Holy Spirit here, because they’re all one. And so the disciples understood that and they were actually, he was explaining right then what all that was about. And then let’s go to John chapter 10 And look, if you will, in uh this 30th first listen to what he says, he says in verse 28 I give eternal life to them and they will never perish and no one will be able to snatch them out of my hand once you save for the grace of God, you’re eternally saved my father, who has given them to me, this is jesus speaking, given them to me is greater than all and no one is able to snatch them out of my hand. Listen to this. I and the father are one. If you have seen me, you’ve seen the father. Somebody says, well, I I don’t understand all that. Well, let me just say this, jesus christ came as our savior sent by the father to do his work primarily to die on the cross, shed his blood, make it possible for you not to be saved. We aren’t just saved. Were sealed by the Holy Spirit that is he put a stamp on us, so to speak. Now with the child of God God, the father has his part, jesus has his part, the Holy Spirit has his part. And if you notice in our passage, he talks about the Lord. So I want you to turn to Romans. Chapter 10 for a moment, because this is a passage oftentimes we want to lead somebody to Christ. And this 10th chapter listen to what he says, He says in verse nine, if you confess that is, you’re willing to agree to you state that you say, I believe this. If you confess with your mouth, jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead. He says, you’ll be saved. Then he says, for with the heart, a person believes resulting in righteousness or Godliness and with the mouth he confesses resulting in salvation For the scripture says, whoever believes in him will not be disappointed. And then he says in the 13th 1st for whosoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved. You’ve got God, the father God, the son God, the Holy Spirit. Now, what’s this messiah? That’s the name that they were looking for. If you read the fourth chapter of john and jesus woman at the well and so forth, and they said, we found the messiah and so all of these are different words that describe our savior, Our redeemer, our Lord, our master, the person we have living within us and the person of the Holy Spirit. And so when I think about christmas and I think about all the things that people believe, and they wonder why we believe what we believe God has made it clear in his word. So when you’re talking to somebody about jesus and talking about their sin, which they don’t think they want you to talk too much about that. But let’s just say that you’re talking to them and they say, okay, I want to get out of this mess, I’m in, I do want to feel that God up there somewhere has forgiven me and I do want to believe that what you’re saying that he writes my name in the lamb’s book of life, whatever that means. In other words, a person needs to understand that God the father God, the son God, the spirit, three persons of eternity always working and ever had. And so when he says, when he says in our text here about all this, he says for today, in the city of David has been born for you, A savior who is christ the Lord, somebody says, well now if I believe in jesus, do I have to believe in the Holy Spirit put it this way, you believe in jesus, you will believe in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is one who gave you the capacity to understand what christ is all about and his death at the cross. And so we have think about this, we have God the son and jesus, who also is messiah and we have Lord the Lord, we have all of these words referring to the same person. So, you know what nowhere in the bible is to say, well now let me explain in detail all of this, You read the word of God. Do you know why you and I understand it because the spirit of God enables us to have understanding. So, a person says, well, I believe in God, and I think that’s enough. We’ll now put it this way. You believe in God and you think that’s enough. Uh and identify your God, tell me who is, identify your God, you say, well, I believe in God, and that should be enough. It depends on who your God is, is your God, the eternal creator who sent jesus to be a redeemer, The Holy Spirit to be our neighbor is that the God, you’re talking about the one true God is the God who hates sin, loves the sinner, provides the best, enables us to live out this life and the power of the spirit. And who’s written our name in the lamb’s Book of life, from which there are no erases and who will call you home one day and before whom you will give an account for your life and you will be rewarded according to life that you’ve lived. You cannot escape the truth of that statement. That is who God is. So when you say, well, God and messiah and savior, we’re talking about the same person. There’s simply aspects of the same person and watch this. You can’t listen. You can’t walk in darkness On the one hand and light on the other. In other words, if you’re walking in darkness, you’re walking apart from the will of God the father God the son. God the Holy Spirit God has the best provided for us. And what I want you to see is this when we quote this verse for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him would have everlasting life, watch that for God the father so loved the world, all of us sinners that he gave his only begotten son. That’s jesus, the second person of the trinity. Does that mean one’s higher than the other? No, because they all make up the Godhead God the father God the Son God the Holy Spirit willing to forgive us of our sins. Watch this not based on how good we are. Not based on what we promised, but based on the fact that he was the virgin born son of God who came into the world to be a sacrifice on the cross, shedding his blood and making it possible for all of us to be forgiven of our sin. The blood was a reminder. Listen, we’re saved through the blood of jesus christ. I mean God could have sent all kinds of things, but he listen, watch this. He came himself in the person of jesus christ in order to die on the cross, shed his blood which was payment for your sin and my sin. And now when you and I are willing to accept jesus christ as our savior and our Lord, we are forgiven of our sin, not based on what we do, but based on what he did. And then to enable us and to encourage us throughout our christian life, he sent us the Holy Spirit to live within us to give us understanding and they give us the faith, the capacity to trust him. You say, well, do you under do it, you understand everything about God? No, I’ll tell you one thing I understand enough to praise him and thank him and live for him every single day because he’s everything he said, he would be and he did not say that I’d have to understand everything I understand enough to know when I sin, get rid of it. I understand enough to know when I’m blessed, where it came from, understand enough to know that when I die, I’m going to heaven, understand enough to know that I don’t have to threaten worry about things in this life. This life is short lived. And one of these days when he calls your name and I would say this, you may be hiding out somewhere today. One of these days, God’s going to call your name and you’re gonna wonder where that came from. It came from a God who warned you about a coming judgment, warned you that one day you’d have to give an account for your life. Warned you that one day you will pay for your sins. Listen, God doesn’t want anybody to be lost. This is why he’s got all, this is why he’s got all this in the scripture. God, the father God, the son God, the Holy Spirit. If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the father I and the father of one God so loved the world that he gave. His only begotten son. Whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life, what more could God do in expressing his love than give us his only begotten son? Nothing he did it. Thank you. So, I want you to see it’s really not complicated when you receive jesus as your savior and you understand that you are receiving the father And you’re receiving the Holy Spirit. I was saved at the age of 12. I didn’t understand any of this, but you know what? I didn’t have to At 12 years of age, I just needed to know that I’ve sinned against God, which is not a question. I needed to know that I’ve sinned against God and then he died on the cross for my sins. And he said, if I confess that, yield myself to him, he’d saved me and he did. And then the enlightenment of who he is and what he’s all about came with time. So it’ll be with you. You won’t understand everything at first, but I want you to see this. There’s no contradictions, there’s no difference in the messiah and the savior and jesus and Lord. Now do you understand why you can’t say I believe in God, but I don’t want nothing to do with that, jesus. Listen what? Watch this Why? Because Jesus said I am the father are one to reject, Jesus, is to reject the father. Then where do you go? What’s behind the father? What what what what’s behind the father? Nothing. The world thinks. They have all kinds of explanations. Let me just say this to you. That’s one explanation God the father God the Son God the Holy Spirit and make up the create, listen, make up the creation of this world, they’re the ones who created it. And then because of our sin, he sent jesus to die a bloody death on the cross. As an expression of his love for us. He was the only sinless one that’s ever been. He came to the cross. He laid down his life, He made it possible for all who believe in him to be forgiven of their sins. And then to top it all off, he gave the Holy Spirit to walk within us every single day to enable us to face life and face it triumphantly. And your salvation is based on your response to jesus as your personal savior. All will be accountable to him. And if you think about how simple he made it To a 12 year old boy. He, he told me enough that I was a sinner, Jesus died for my sins. He shed his blood on the cross. And if I were willing to accept him as my personal savior would be forgiven and God would work in my life. That’s what I did. That’s why I’m where I am. Because of the grace of Almighty God, it’s yours for the asking if you will and father, I pray that every person who hears this message, we’ll have understanding which requires faith but a faith and results in eternal life in jesus name. Amen.