Posts Tagged ‘Christmas


Have a blessed Christmas


The Bible is full of passages of God’s tremendous love.  One that has again recently awed me is Isaiah 43:22-25.

Yet you have not called upon me, O Jacob, you have not wearied yourselves for me, O Israel.  You have not brought me sheep for burnt offerings, nor honored me with your sacrifices.  I have not burdened you with grain offerings nor wearied you with demands for incense.  You have not bought any fragrant calamus for me, or lavished on me the fat of your sacrifices.  But you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your offenses.  I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.

This paragraph is so rich in meaning.  I would like to share just a few thoughts about it.  Note especially the three “wearied”.  They didn’t weary themselves for the Lord.  Neither did the Lord burden and weary them with offerings.  Instead they burdened and wearied him with their sins.  How does he react?  He blots them out and remembers them no more!  What a wonderful Gospel gem that is.

But what makes it all the more brilliant is the setting in which Isaiah placed it.  All around it, from chapters 40 – 48, God is declaring his glory.  He is the Creator.  He is the Lord of History.  He predicts the future.  He alone is God.  Over and over he repeats such thoughts – often by contrasting them with the utter worthlessness of idols.  Fewer places does God emphasize his glory more than he does in these chapters of Isaiah.  It would be an interesting study to see how many times God says, “I” in them.  I’m sure it is well over a hundred times.

That God is incomparable and all-glorious is the setting.  But only the setting. In this setting Isaiah has placed brilliant diamonds of pure grace like the one above.  This incomparable, all-glorious Lord who deserves nothing but praise and worship from his creatures, instead receives from them their stinking sins and repulsive offense.  So much so that they are a burden to him.  Especially note that they did nothing to mitigate this.  No words of apology.  No acts of contrition.  Talk about audacity and stupidity.  Talk about irritating the Lion.  We duck for cover as we expect an unleashing of his wrath.

But instead what do we hear?  “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgression, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”  Talk about undeserved grace!  If God would have punished us only partially for our sins – that would have been extremely merciful.  If he would have put us on probation – that would have been unbelievable.  But to blot them out and forget them – we can only believe that because God himself says it.

God has blotted out our sins.  That is why Jesus came at Christmas.  That is what the angel announced:  “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)  Honor him by being totally convinced that he has blotted out your sins and that he no longer remembers them.  Worship him by giving him every single bit of credit for your living with heavenly Father.  Praise him by telling others about his wonderful response to mankind’s sin – to their sin and your sin.  Have a joyous Christmas knowing God has done it all!


Who Is Jesus?


     Signs of another rapidly approaching Christmas are all around us.  Therefore it is only appropriate to address the question of who is it whose birth we celebrate each Christmas.   As is the case with so many other teachings, Mormonism answers this uniquely. 

     After quoting the angel’s announcement of Christ’s birth to Mary as it is recorded in Luke 1:35, Gospel Principles goes on to say, “Thus, God the Father became the literal Father of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the only person on earth to be born of a mortal mother and an immortal Father.  That is why He is the called the Only Begotten Son.” (p.53)   Although Christians have frequently portrayed this LDS teaching crassly and wrongly, it still must be acknowledged that Mormonism and Christianity view Jesus’ conception very differently.  I know of no Christian church that would agree with the above quotation.

     Another answer that Mormonism gives to this question is that Jesus was “the great Jehovah of the Old Testament”.  I have always found this puzzling for a couple of reasons.  In the King James Version, “Jehovah” is consistently translated with LORD (all capitals).  And quite often it is found in the combination LORD God.  In the original Hebrew this is literally Jehovah Elohim.  This is interesting because Mormonism identifies Elohim as the Father.  Therefore, in Mormonism, LORD God translates into Son, Father – quite an awkward construction.  But what is even more striking is that often the LORD God speaks in the singular, not in the plural.  For example, “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone.  I will make him an help meet for him.” (Genesis 2:18)  Why would the Bible so frequently use LORD God as a description of one person when it is, according to Mormonism, two persons?

     But it gets even more complicated.  For example, the LDS Bible rightfully refers Isaiah 50 to the Messiah.  One of the things it states in its chapter heading is “Messiah shall have the tongue of the learned.”  That refers to verse 6 which states:  “The LORD God has given me the tongue of the learned.”  Again, if LORD (Jehovah) is Christ then this has Christ giving Christ the tongue of the learned.

     Or how does Mormonism handle Isaiah 45:21?  “who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? And there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.”  How does the Father fit into that verse? God here is again the Hebrew Elohim.  Therefore Jesus here is saying that he is Elohim.   And how could Jesus be God before coming to earth and receiving a body, since, according to Mormonism, having a physical body is essential for godhood?

     Who is Jesus? As can be seen, Mormonism answers that question quite differently from Christianity.  Although it is not usually meant in this way, it is true that Mormonism has a different Jesus than Christianity.


Have A Wonderful Christmas in Christ


     For many people, Christmas is a wonderful time.  But for a lot of people, Christmas is not so great.  Without fail, every Christmas, I, as a pastor, have people contacting me because they are struggling with the holidays.  This year is no exception.

     So how can we help people who are having a blue Christmas?  Downplaying their problems isn’t very effective – or realistic.  Giving them a self-help program usually only increases the pressure they are feeling.  Telling them to buck up often results in their giving up. 

     What helps is turning them away from themselves to Jesus.  Showing them that the name Jesus means Savior “for he shall save his people from their sins”. (Luke 1:21)   Showing them how Jesus saved them by keeping the law perfectly for them and washing all their sins away with his blood.  Showing them the tremendous light at the end of the tunnel – a wonderful life of living with him for all eternity in heaven – a light that he lit by coming to earth as our Savior.  Showing them that he has promised to make all things work out for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).  The more we focus others to Jesus, the more we focus ourselves to Jesus, the more we will be filled with peace and contentment – even when storms are raging around us. 

     It is my prayer that you have a wonderful Christmas in Christ – in his love, in his forgiveness, in his salvation, in his coming.


Jesus’ Birth


     As Christmas approaches, it is timely to point out another difference between Mormonism and Christianity, namely the circumstances of Jesus’ birth.  Christianity teaches that Jesus was miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit.  In fact, Luke 1: 35 (“that holy thing which shall be born of thee”) could be translated, “that holy one being conceived”.  The verb in the Greek is in the present and the word translated “born” also has the meaning “conceive”.  In other words, it was happening as the angel was speaking.

     Mormonism, however, teaches that Jesus was not only the spirit child of Heavenly Father, but also his literal physical child.  “That Child to be born of Mary was begotten of Elohim, the Eternal Father, not in violation of natural law but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof.”  (Talmage quoted in The Life and Teachings of Jesus & His Apostles, p. 23)  “We believe that he came into the world, born of Mary, literally and actually, as we are born of our mothers: that he came into the world, born of God the Eternal Father, the Almighty Elohim, literally and actually, as we are born of our earthly fathers.”  (McConkie, quoted in Sharing the Gospel, p. 74)

     That Jesus was the product of a union of Mary and the Eternal Father has been the subject of unjust caricatures by some Christians.  I personally have never seen or heard Mormons talk about it the way some of those caricatures have portrayed it. 

     But, on the other hand, that doesn’t mean it is not part of Mormonism.  My reason for bringing it up is to highlight how it illustrates the different view Mormonism has of both God the Father and Jesus.  This ties in with Mormonism’s teaching that God is an Exalted Man (“As man is, God once was”) and that Jesus was half –Deity.  “She. . .was about to give birth to half-Deity.”  (Life and Teachings. . .p.10)

January 2021

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