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Sunday, 24 December 2017

My favourite Christmas text - part 3

In the previous two posts I have shared with you on John 3:16, we have noted:
The Fact – God loved the world so very much; and 
The Act – that He gave Himself, in the Person of the eternal Son. 
Finally, that well-known verse speaks of the Pact.
God loved the world so very much that He gave Himself, in the Person of the eternal Son, that every individual who has placed their trust in Him for salvation shall not die, but have, here and now, God’s life within them.”
You see, God’s love; God’s gift; are not mere handouts. Free they may be – but only to those who are willing to enter into a living relationship with that same God, through the Son; only to those who have faith in Him, and place their trust in Him. And that eternal life, given to those who believe, is not merely life that never ends, but a different quality of life. It is the life of the age to come of which believers already have a foretaste as they come under the influence of God the Holy Spirit – although its full consummation and enjoyment are only in His nearer presence. But it is only for those who are truly disciples of Jesus. God’s love, and God’s Gift are offered to all. His salvation and the eternal life that comes with it, are only for those who accept the Son as Saviour and Lord of their lives, in repentance and faith, receiving the Gift with humble and thankful hearts.
I suppose that it takes a wee bit of effort to lift our eyes from the sweet, sentimental picture of the Babe in the manger, to the stark reality of the Christ on the cross. In the midst of the fun and festivities that most of us will enjoy, it isn’t easy to remember Gethsemane where the Baby, grown to manhood, sweated great drops of blood. It isn’t easy to remember how Judas betrayed Him; how Peter denied Him; how “they all forsook Him and fled.” (Mk.14:50). Do we really want to remember the scourging; the crown of thorns; how they spat upon His naked body; how they slapped Him on the head with a reed? When we sing “Child in the manger” do we spare a thought for His pierced hands and feet; His agony; His thirst; His cry of anguish and desolation: “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” (Mt.27:46).
“We may not know, we cannot tell
What pains He had to bear.
But we believe it was for us
He hung, and suffered, there.”
The Baby?! Yes. For without Bethlehem, there would have been no Calvary. And it is only as we look at both that we can even begin to see the whole picture of the saving grace of Father God – God coming, and God doing. And then we must look beyond to the empty tomb; symbol of the risen and exalted Christ - yes, and beyond even that to His Second Advent, when He returns in power and glory!
God loved the world so very much that He gave Himself, in the Person of the eternal Son, that every individual who has placed their trust in Him for salvation shall not die, but have, here and now, God’s life within them
Perhaps you have never thought of Jn.3:16 as a Christmas text before! But may it be that, in the midst of all of the traditional celebrations; the carol-singing; the special meals; the tinsel and the presents, we do not forget
The Fact – “God loved the world (you and me) so much
The Act – that He gave His only, unique, Son
The Pact – that everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but here and now, have eternal life.
A very happy CHRISTmas to one and all.

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