Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Real Meaning of Christmas (Part 1)

SERMON               GMT14-022

SERIES:              Topical Messages:  Christmas

SETTING:          North Kelso Baptist Church

SERVICE:          Sunday AM (Dec 7, 2014)

SUBTITLE:        The Real Meaning of Christmas (Part 1)

SCRIPTURE:     Philippians 2:5-7b

SUBJECT:          God became a man

SUMMARY:       God became man in order to redeem the human race                                  from sin.

SCHEME:           that believers appreciate the incarnation of Jesus Christ

Our theme is: God became a man

This is a good reminder for us all that as the Christmas season approaches with all of its frenzied excitement, we do not lose sight of the true or the real meaning of Christmas.

 Proposition:  God became man in order to redeem the human race from sin.

Interrogatory Sentence:  What does God want us to know about the incarnation of Jesus Christ?

Transitional Sentence: The passage before us identifies four (4) aspects of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. As we develop our theme we will clearly see the real meaning of Christmas.

The Real Meaning of Christmas is seen in:

1.     The Person of the Incarnation              3.  The Purpose of the Incarnation
2.     The Product of the Incarnation              4.  The Prize of the Incarnation

The Real Meaning of Christmas
Philippians 2:5-7b
(Part 1)


1.       What do people think the modern day Christmas is all about?

          In a survey conducted by ComRes on behalf of Theos in October 2011 the           following results were obtained to tell us what people about Christmas:

·        83% agreed that Christmas is a about spending time with family and friends (Nothing religious, not about Christ – family & friends)

·        62% agreed that Christmas is a time when we should be generous to people less fortunate than ourselves. (one time a year think of poor)

·        41% agreed that Christmas is about celebrating that God loves humanity. 24% disagreed with this (Christmas isn’t about God or about God’s love)

·        40% said Christmas is a good excuse for taking time off and doesn't really have any meaning today but 34 % disagreed with this. (It has meaning)

·        Americans’ initial estimates of the total amount they will spend on Christmas gifts this year point to an above-average holiday season for the nation’s retailers. While Gallup’s October spending forecast is a warm-up to its key measure in November, it finds Americans expecting to spend $781, on average, up from $704 last November. (2014 numbers)

·        Of course holiday spending does not end there.  There are trees to put up, packages to send out and decorations to buy.  The following numbers are from a Forbes article about what an average American typically spends during a Christmas season…

·        Christmas Tree: $41.50
·        Cards And Postage: $32.43
·        Floral Arrangements: $22.61
·        Food And Candy: $95.04
·        Decorations: $51.43      Travel: $960.50


          (Let’s look at the devotion to Christmas both culturally & in Christianity)

[So, let’s look at this devotion…]

1)      Culturally – our culture is devoted to Christmas

a)      The Christmas tree – the annual selection & decoration is epic
b)     The Decorations – inside & outside the house (contests, viewings)
c)      The Celebrations – family get-togethers & parties
d)     The Giving of Gift

2)      Christianity – is devoted to Christmas

a)      Devotion is depicted in the Nativity scenes & Manager scenes
b)      Devotion is demonstrated in annual pageants & programs
c)      Devotion is displayed towards Jesus Christ thru special worship
d)     Devotion is defined by special rituals & traditions

                   Most people are devoted to Christmas. Especially those whom we come in                    contact with in the church family. It is a fun time that produces lots of good                    and warm feelings among families, churches, and communities. But                                misplaced or miss defined devotion can cause us to miss the real meaning                      of  Christmas.

[Culture & Christians are devoted Christmas. But, Christmas can be desecrated also. We can see Christmas and the Christmas season desecrated in at least three (3) ways:]

B.     Desecration of Christmas

1)    In the Commercialization of Christmas

a)     Price of Christmas economically

1)    Toys & gifts (thousands are spent on gifts)
2)    Decorations (bows, wrapping papers, ornaments, etc.)
3)    Parties (food, alcohol, candies, treats, etc.)
4)    Travel (busiest time of the year to travel)
5)    Food (3,000 calories; 22 M turkeys;1,76 B candy canes)
(Christmas can be desecrated in the economically, but it can also be desecrated in the…)

b)    Production of Christmas socially

(1) Movies are made of “the magic” of Xmas

(2) Much emphasis is placed on the social aspect which distracts attention from the real meaning

[Christmas can be desecrated by its commercialization, but Christmas can be desecrated…]

2)    In the Condemnation of Christmas

a)     Atheists – denunciation of Christmas hymns or songs that mention Christ, the nativity, or anything remotely connected to Christianity. Rudolph & Frosty are in, but heaven help the little child say a Christmas prayer or sing Away in a Manager.

b)    ACLU & Courts) – successfully barring Parks, City Squares, Schools, and in some cases churches from displaying any type of depiction of the Christmas story.

c)     Apostates – unrighteous man rejoices in the giving of a savior but denounces the reason the little baby by was born in Bethlehem in the first place – the fact that man is sinful and wicked requiring a savior.

The desecration of Christmas can be seen in its commercialization and in its condemnation. But it can be desecrated…

3)    In the Condescension of Christmas

[The condescension of Christmas can be see two ways. First in the…] 

a)     Active Condescension of Christians

                             This is where believers succumb to the world’s view of Christmas.                                  They take on the meaning of the fantasy and the mythology of Santa                               Claus, the commercialization and etc. Some believers participate                                   right along with those who would destroy the holiness, the sanctity                                 and the preciousness of this wonderful historical event.

                             They get so wrapped up (no pun intended) in the gift giving,                                            receiving of presents, office parties, school parties, neighborhood                                    and family get togethers and the race into debt, rather than looking to                              the fact that our debt of sin was settled because of the incarnation in                               Bethlehem almost 2,000 years ago.

[In addition to active condescension by Christians, there is also the…]

b)    Passive Condescension of Christians

                             This is when believers fail to defend Christ Jesus. Believers fail to                              uphold the incarnation by failing to give witness to the real meaning                              of Christmas. It is easy to say Merry Christmas, though I don’t know                              why you would want to, or happy holidays to every person                                              encountered, to enjoy all of the sights and sounds of Christmas, give                              expensive and exotic gifts and fail to mention the real meaning of the                              holiday.

Well, since there is a prevalent devotion to Christmas by both believers and unbelievers, and since we can discern a desecration of Christmas through commercialization, through condemnation, and through condescension, do we as believers have any relationship or duty towards Christmas at all? I think the answer is yes, so as we finish up this introduction let’s look briefly at the believer’s

C.     Duty towards Christmas

          I think believers have some important duties in regards to Christmas. I think we           can enjoy the season and I don’t think we need to be the Grinch that stole                       Christmas. I think we do need to realize and recognize our responsibilities or                  duties toward Christmas. I think there are at least four (4) duties that believers               have  towards Christmas:

1)    Refuse to cheapen or degrade Christmas by participating or promoting pagan rituals, mythology, and celebrations. Start by teaching children that all gifts come from the Father of lights or the Father above, not from Santa Claus or the North Pole. Santa Clause does not watch them when they are sleeping nor does he know when they have been bad or good. And he is not coming to town.

2)    Resist the temptation to listen to godless philosophies, psychologists, or worldly advice givers who say it is morally right to make up for years of hurt or parental mistakes by going bust on extravagant gifts.

3)    Rescue at any at any cost the holiness and sanctity of the real meaning of Christmas, or the reason for the season. Be loyal and vocal and verbalize the message of God’s gift salvation for His people.

4)    Remind our children, grandchildren, family members, each other, and the members of our community at large how to participate biblically and strategically in this cultural event with the ability to worship and adore Jesus Christ as the Lord of our lives.

Now, I know that some might object and say that takes the fun out of Christmas. Critics may say that devotion to duty reduces Christmas to a sterile ignoring of what is going on around us.

No, it gives us some much needed guidelines to do all things decently and in order with moderation wrapped in obedience and adoration of Jesus Christ.

So, as we look at Philippians 2:5-11 over the next three (3), I want us to see the real meaning of Christmas. This passage is probably the greatest and most moving passage Paul ever wrote about Jesus Christ.

Our theme is: God became a man

This is a good reminder for us all that as the Christmas season approaches with all of its frenzied excitement, that we do not lose sight of the true or the real meaning of Christmas.

 Proposition:  God became man in order to redeem the human race from sin.

Interrogatory Sentence:  What does God want us to know about the incarnation of Jesus Christ?
Transitional Sentence: The passage before us identifies four (4) aspects of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. As we develop our theme we will clearly see the real meaning of Christmas.

The Real Meaning of Christmas is seen in:

1.     The Person of the Incarnation      3.  The Purpose of the Incarnation
2.     The Product of the Incarnation    4.  The Prize of the Incarnation

This morning, since we have had such a lengthy introduction, we will only have time to look at the first point. So without further delay, as we examine the real meaning of Christmas let’s examine…


          “…who, existing in the form of God…”

          It is very important for us to see who was involved in the incarnation. We know           that Mary played a tremendous part by serving as the vehicle of the incarnation.           Joseph was a player by virtue of being the husband and step-Father.

          Both Scripture and history teaches us that a historical person named, Jesus, was           born in Bethlehem about 5 or 4 BC. The question is, who is this person we know           as Jesus?

[To discover the person of the incarnation lets first dig into…]

          1B     The Concept of the Incarnation (6)

                   [The first thing we see is that the concept is…]

                   1C     Stated in our text

                             The Greek word for form is the word morfh. It essentially means                                   the outward display of the inner reality or substance. Here in verse 6                               it refers to the outward display of divine substance.

                             It carries the idea of having the essential attributes or characteristics of                              a substance. In this case, it the outward form of inner deity.

                             [First of all the concept can be stated…]

                             1D     Philosophically

                                      Aristotle in his definitions tried to distinguish between form and                                       matter. But there is a relationship between essence and                                                          substance.

                                      The idea of deity taking on various forms or expressions was                                            not new with the NT. Greek religion was filled with gods taking                                      on various forms and even frequently changing forms. Legends                                             state gods were present in human form and magic, spiritual                                            forces take on the appearance of human bodies.

                                      Some philosophers tried to deny that deity would take on                                                     human shape or form as unworthy of gods.

·        Socrates sought to find deity in works, not a person

·        Plato argues that the gods kept their own perfect form.

                                      But we’re not dealing with philosophy or man’s reasoning,                                         we’re dealing with God’s word and what he states.
                             [Secondly, the concept can be stated…]

                             2D     Judistically

                                      In the OT the idea of God having a perceptible form was totally                                       alien. They did not conceive of God as having an identifiable                                           form.

                                      No prophet have ever seen God – no image of God can be                                           made.

                                      Josephus in his writings often scoffed at the idea of painters or                                     sculptors attempting to depict deity in any form.

                                      The Rabbis had a very clear sense that one could speak of the                                                 form of God only in a very figurative way.

                   [For example – God was a…]

·        Pillar of smoke or fire
·        Voice
·        Lightening
·        Thunder

So, stating the concept philosophically or judistically can help us understand the idea of the incarnation. Secondly, we can understand the concept as we see it…

                   2C     Supported in our text

                             1D     “I and my Father are one.”    (John 10:30)

                                      The idea is that they are one thing, essential unity, they have                                            the same qualities. Jesus is God because they have the same                                           essential qualities.

                             2D     “…though you do not believe me, believe the works that you                                            may know and believe that the Father is in me and I in                                                   him.”  (John 10:38)

                             3D     “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father                                          in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my                                           own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the                                               works.”  (John 14:10)

                             4D     “And the glory which you gave me I have given them that they                                       may be one just as We are one.” (John 14:22)

                             5D     “…without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; God                                                 was manifested in the flesh…  foranw - ”to make visible”                                                 God was made visible in the person of Jesus Christ.

                             6D     “By this you know the Spirit of God; every spirit that                                                   confesses that Jesus Christ has comde in the flesh is of God,                                       and every spirit that denies that Jesus Chrit has come in the                                       flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of anti-Christ…”  (1                                                 John 4:2-3)
                             7D     “…who being the brightness of His glory and he expressed                                         image of His person…” (Hebrews 1:3)

                                      The “Who” here is the Son (Jesus) referred to in verse 2 and the                                  “His” in this verse refers to God the Father, who was                                                   introduced in verse 1.

                                      What does the brightness of his glory and the express image of                                        his person mean?

                                      1E     Jesus Christ emanated the Shekinah glory of God. The                                                     majestic glory of God radiated from Jesus Christ was of                                                   the same form – or essence, qualities or attributes as God.

                                      2E     caracthr - character: impression, stamp, it refers to an                                                 engraved character or impress made by a die or seal. It                                                      also indicates the characteristic traits or distinctive mark                                                 it means an exact reproduction.

                                      The writer of Hebrews is stating that Jesus Christ is exactly the                                        Father. IOW, Jesus is God. The real meaning of Christmas is                                          that the triune Godhead became a man while remaining God in                                        order to be the sin offering for mankind. Jesus is God.

                                      These seven different passages that prove Jesus is God. Seven                                          passages, well at least 6 prove that Jesus knew He was God and                                  He taught that He was God. The Person of the incarnation was                                          the almighty, all majestic, and creator God.

Although denied by philosophers, and unheard of in the OT and religion of the Jews, the concept is easily proven and easily understood.

The concept is simple, Jesus had the same form, quality, and attributes as God. Jesus was God.

Our theme is: God became a man

This is a good reminder for us all that as the Christmas season approaches with all of its frenzied excitement, we do not lose sight of the true or the real meaning of Christmas.

 Proposition:  God became man in order to redeem the human race from sin

[So, the second thing we dig into is…]

          2B     The Character of the Incarnation (6b-7b)

                    First of all, not only does it say, Christ being in the form of God (having all               the same essential qualities and attributes) we read further in vs 7:

                   “…did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of                      no reputation taking the form of a bondservant…”

                   The concept which we just looked at dealt with the issue of the form that                        Jesus had, his shape – the form or shape of God, Jesus had all the essential                    qualities of God.

                   The character centers on the issue of equality and the emptying of                               Christ’s glory. Jesus considered himself to be equal to or with God, and He                     laid aside his heavenly glory in order to enter time and space as a man.

[So, let’s take a minute and examine…]

                   1C     The Equality of Christ

                             [I think it will help us to clearly see this equality if we first see it…]

                             1D     Identified

                                      The word used here for robbery “uarpagmos” is used                                                      nowhere  else in the NT. The verb form is used only a few                                               times.

                                      This word was not the common word for “being.” It describes                                         that which in any circumstance, remains the same. So Paul is                                           saying that Jesus was essentialy and unalterably God.

                                      This form does not emphasize the act of robbing or taking by                                           force. It refers to that which was robbed or taken. IOW, the                                              prize, the plunder, the loot. It came to mean something eagerly                                        seized or appropriated.

                                      According to this definition, it means something eagerly sought                                       after or eagerly seized. What is the thing eagerly sought after?                                                 Right, equality with God.

                                      Jesus Christ is God! The real meaning of Christmas is that God                                        in the incarnation became a man while remaining God in order                                        to redeem sinful mankind.

                                      The word equal here is the word isos which means the same                                         in size, number, and or quality. The RSV translated this phrase                                      on an equality with God instead of equal with God.

                                      Their translation comes from the Latin Version (Vulgate) of                                           the NT and the Latin had no adequate way of representing the                                         exact form and meaning of the Greek word.

                                      But our rendering is more accurate to prove in fact that Paul,                                           the early church and etc. understood Jesus to be God because                                           Jesus was of the same size, number and quality as God.

                                      But look what God with this equality. Remember, the word                                       robbery – which means to seize or eagerly seek after?

          Even though Jesus Christ was equal to God or was God, He did not allow this to           stop him from becoming a man or a servant in the incarnation.

          [That should identify it for us, now for even more clarity, let’s see this character…]

                             2D     Illustrated

                                      Remember the lame man that had laid by the pool of Bethesda?                                       He couldn’t get in the pool in hopes of being healed because he                                       was lame and had been for 38 years. Jesus asks him a very                                               strange question, “Don’t you want to get well?”

                                      Of course we all know his answer, “I don’t have anybody who                                          will put me in the water. Jesus told him to take up your bed                                              and walk and what happened? He did!

                                      But remember what day that happened on? The Sabbath. The                                           Jews wanted to kill Jesus because he healed on the Sabbath.

                                      But he replied something very revealing about himself, about                                         his character and about his own knowledge of who he was –                                            He said, “My father has been working until now, and I have                                         been working.”

                                      The Jews wanted to kill him all the more, why? He not only                                       broke the Sabbath, but He said God was His father which to                                             them clearly made him equal with God.

                                      Why? Or really how? The son (child) has the same qualities,                                          attributes, or characteristics of the Father.

Well, we have seen the equality of Christ. Let’s finish up with…

                   2C     The Emptying of Christ

                             “…but made Himself of no reputation…”

                             1D     The Emptying kenwsis

                                The Greek word is kenow. It is from this word that we get the                                          word kenwsis. Jesus became man in the incarnation emptied                                           himself of several things.

                                      He did not give up his omniscience, omnipotence, and                                                 omnipresence. He laid aside his glory but did not give up his                                           deity. He set aside his glory as God for 33 years. He set aside                                        and refused to use all of the power he possessed as God                                                    temporarily.

                                      This word was used of removing things from a container, until                                        the container was empty. Or the pouring out of something until                                         nothing was left to pour.

                                      Is it becoming a little more clearer? Are you getting the picture?                         The real meaning of Christmas is that God set aside His glory                                         that depicted God as God and became a man in order to save                                         His people from their sins.

                                      This is unimaginable! It is unimaginable that God would do                                       something such as emptying Himself of all of His eternal,                                            majestic, and heavenly glory in order to take on the shape or                                                 form or characteristics of a human being.

                                      If there is anything such as “Christmas” this is what Christmas                                       is all about. We cannot forget nor pervert this tremendous truth.

[Not only do we see the emptying of glory, but we see…]

                             2D     The Exchange by God

                                      “…taking the form of a bondservant…”

                                      How did He do this? He exchanged His glory for the body                                               and life of a man. And not just any man, but a slave, a servant                                          to mankind.

                             [Once again we see this clearly…]

                                      1E     Stated

                                                God took on the form of a man. This word form is used 3                                                 times in the NT, twice right here in our passage. God                                                   took on the qualities, essence, nature, or the attributes of                                                 a slave or servant.

                             [It is also…]

                                      2E     Supported

                                                “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served                                                      but  to serve…” (Matt 20:28, NKJV)

                                                “For who is greater, he who sits at the table or he who                                                  serves. Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am                                                           among you as the One who serves.” (Luke 22:7,                                                              NKJV)

                                                “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things                                                   into His hands, and that He had come from God and                                                 was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His                                                   garments, took a towel, and girded Himself. After that,                                                  He poured water into a basin and began to wash the                                                      disciple’s feet, and to wipe them with the towel with                                                        which He was girded. (John 13:3-5, NKJV)

The fact that the character of the incarnation included the humility of Jesus, seen as he washed the disciples feet like any common household servant, as he set aside his heavenly glory and characteristics of his deity. God voluntarily for the benefit of His people exchanged his heavenly position for an earthly slave.

This is the real meaning of Christmas!

Our theme has been: God became a man

This is a good reminder for us all that as the Christmas season approaches with all of its frenzied excitement, we do not lose sight of the true or the real meaning of Christmas.

 Proposition:  God became man in order to redeem the human race from sin

[Well, let’s wrap this up, shall we?]                            


Well, we didn’t very far today. But I hope you know a little more about the Person of the Incarnation. It wasn’t just a little baby born in a manager in a cave. It was God becoming a man while remaining God.

Christmas is a very wonderful time of the year. It carries a very specific meaning for God’s people. Let’s not let the hustle and bustle, and the well-meaning wishes of good cheer and happy holidays cause us to forget the Real Meaning of Christmas.


  And So, I exhort you as genuine believers to remember and be thankful to God for The Person of the incarnation.

Remember Isaiah said in Isaiah 9:6a…

For unto us a Child is born….”

Let’s pray! J

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