“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel….” (II Timothy 2:8)
Asking thoughtful believers why they are so dadgum confident of the truth of Jesus Christ will result in a hundred different answers.
A pastor friend says for him, it’s the Lord’s resurrection. It’s as historically verifiable as anything in ancient times and perhaps more. And if Jesus rose, then according to His word He’s still alive and how good is that!
To me the scriptures “fit” and just “feel right,” providing a wonderful assurance for this country boy. I recognize the arbitrary and subjective nature of that, but there it is.
Other reasons believers give for their eternal hope range from the archaeological evidence to the miracles they’ve experienced or their grandma’s testimony.
But there’s something else that looms large in my mind, a fact that dominates almost everything else.
The first shoe to drop was in the fields outside Bethlehem. The most-favored angel of all the ages brought the best news ever delivered to a small cluster of shepherds who heard it in stunned silence.
Do not be afraid. For I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be to all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10)
In making this announcement-of-all-announcements, the angel was revealing what God was doing at that moment, Who the babe in the manger actually was, and the purpose for which He had made this momentuous journey.
He came as our Savior.
If I may be allowed to say so, Jesus wasn’t the Savior yet. He came to do the things necessary in order to become our Savior. Salvation is not a do-it-yourself project for us, but in a manner of speaking, it was for Jesus. He came into the world to become our Light, our Pioneer and Trail-blazer, our Sin-bearer, our Propitiation, our Substitute, our Mediator.
That’s the first part of the story. The second part–the other shoe to drop–is the account of what He did to achieve our salvation.
The New Testament is rife with tributes to Jesus for what He accomplished. From the Epistle to the Hebrews alone, here are some of the glowing testimonials to what He achieved. And He did it for you and me.
Think of what follows as the other side of the Christmas story.
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and shunned evil. –Job 1:1
Job, you have instructed many. You have strengthened weak hands; your words have upheld him who was stumbling; and you have strengthened the feeble knees. –Job 4:3-4
Authenticity: Job had it.
It’s my observation that in sports the best coaches and in church the most effective pastors are all authentic.
They are the real deal.
They don’t try to be someone else. While they have surely picked up traits and lessons and insights from others, they do not do their imitation of other people. They are themselves.
The word–I love finding the root meaning of words–comes from autos, meaning “self,” and hentes, Greek for worker, doer, author. So, we might say “authentic” means “coming from the author” or “genuine.”
The Bible is authentic. It comes from the Original Author (of all things!).
What started me thinking about this was a sports discussion on the radio one morning recently. A former UCLA coach made the observation after the LSU-Alabama slugfest back in November, that both coaches, Nick Saban and Ed Orgeron, are authentic. They are originals, copying no one, imitating no one, just being who they are.
I assume it’s a given that no one knows all the Bible. And therefore, we can say with a reasonable sense of certainty that while all pastors and Bible teachers know many parts better than others, they know some sections hardly at all. It’s certainly true in my case. Yours too, I’m guessing. And that’s what has prompted the following…..
A pastor said to me, “You can say all you please about your supposed-doctrine of once-saved-always-saved, but my Bible says, ‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die.'”
I responded, “True, it does say that in the Old Testament (see Ezekiel 18:4,20). But Romans 8:2 says, ‘The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.'”
Here’s what that means to all of us…