Vantage Point


Achieve, Goals, Succeed, Evaluate, Research For the Christian, I think one of the most important verses in the entire New Testament is Romans 12:2: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” The reason for this is that we are not saved just so we can continue living, breathing, and thinking like we always have. We are saved for a purpose and with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit our discernment and understanding grow and we experience radical change in our attitudes and our thinking. In other words, the Christian life is a life of transformation.

Paul instructs us, in his letter to the Philippians: “Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:12,13) And again we are taught: “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) There are plenty of Bible verses with similar messages, the bottom line of which is the call to be more than just saved, we are to be disciples, living to serve and to please God.

One of the most important transformations we undergo, as Christians, is in the area of our worldview. A worldview is the way we understand the world around us. If you have watched the evening news, read a newspaper, or surfed on-line news sources within the last few years, then you probably have heard the term and are aware that there are a few competing worldviews out there. But whether or not you have given much thought to your worldview; you can be confident in one thing: everyone has one.

Prior to becoming a Christian, my worldview would have been most closely associated with what is called “secular humanism”. Secular humanism is most easily defined as the worldview in which humans are the primary source of our values and understanding of the world. It is the worldview that is presented in public schools, certain science journals, and so on. Many new Christians may hold on to this worldview at first, but as we study God’s Word, get involved in our churches, and experience the power of the Holy Spirit, God starts to transform our thinking and we begin to understand differently. We start to be transformed.

The Christian worldview, of course, is quite different from the humanist view and that of other religions. Space in this blog doesn’t allow me to dig to deeply into all the facts and information on the Christian worldview, but at the bottom you will find some links to assist you with further study. For now, I would like to address four basic areas in which our worldview is so very vital. Again, due to space constraints, I can only present a basic overview here. There is much more information available by clicking the links at the bottom.

1) Origins

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) Human beings are a special creation of God, in his likeness, with special purpose and special relationship to our Creator. “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27) We are created beings and not the result of evolution from some primordial ooze or lower life form. It is only when we understand our true origin that we understand the special value that human life has and we comprehend that we are much more than the result of random molecular mutations. “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!” (Genesis 1:31)

2) Purpose

So we are God’s special creation and, therefore, we must have purpose. But just what is that purpose? Simply put, our primary purpose is to glorify God.  We see this in many verses but I’ll just list a few of my favorites:

“What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority.” (Psalm 8:4-6)

“Honor the Lord for the glory of his name. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” (Psalm 29:2)

“So that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.” (Romans 1:5b)

“The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.” (Ephesians 1:14)

It is our status as God’s special creation and this purpose that highlights the inherent value in human life.

3) Morality

This is the area that is maybe the easiest to understand in concept, but often is the hardest to fully embrace in practice. The concept: that God created us and everything around us so, therefore, he establishes the rules, is clear enough. But the Bible is chock full of examples of disobedience, which should tell us something about the difficulty of obedience. Still, lack of obedience does not disqualify truth. Nor do our opinions about the rules.

In the secular worldview, society makes the rules; there is no eternity to consider and no true higher authority, so we are free to do whatever we feel is right. The rules society sets for itself are always subject to change based on the whims of the majority, or the minority if they have garnered for themselves enough power. There are no absolutes and no absolute authority.

In the Christian worldview, however, we have the Bible as our absolute authority, and we have a Living God as the ultimate judge. God made the rules and, like a loving parent, he established them in accordance with his purpose for us and to provide the best chance for our happiness. Psalm 119 speaks of living by God’s commandments; verses 1 & 2 say: “Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.”

The bottom line: Joyful are those who follow God’s instruction!

4) Destiny

Christians realize they are sinners and believe there is a God who will judge the world and, therefore, they recognize people are without hope apart from the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Romans 8:1 says: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” The eternal destiny of the forgiven is, perhaps, the first element of a Christian worldview that a Christian grasps. And we understand the opposite is also true; those who do not have Christ are perishing. As it is written in 1 John 5:12: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.”

This is why Jesus gave us the great commission (ie: Matthew 28:16-20). And it is why growing in our understanding and worldview is so vital. Because “if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” (1 Peter 3:15) Understanding the Christian worldview is important to being prepared to share our faith. And when we share our faith and live in obedience to Him; we fulfill our purpose of glorifying God. The truly good news for Christians is that we have the indwelling Holy Spirit to drive our desire to grow in our Christ-likeness and to give us discernment. And our understanding of the Christian worldview is certainly one barometer of our growth!

If you have not yet made the decision to repent and turn to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, I appreciate that you have read this far. And since you have, why not make this the moment you claim the promise of Romans 8:1 and have all your sins forgiven. Just open your heart and talk to God, confess your wrongs, and ask his forgiveness. For… ”If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

For those of you wanting to know more about the Christian worldview, here are some resources:

Answers in Genesis

J Warner Wallace

Institute for Creation Research

The Christian Worldview

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

His Grace Is Sufficient

All Too Human 4   There are those out there who will tell you becoming a Christian means having your “best life now”, that all your problems will disappear, that you will have happiness beyond your imagination. Health and wealth will be yours and trials a thing of the past. Still others may suggest that once you become a Christian you will live in sinless bliss; your life will be one of perfect obedience, free of all wrongdoing. Yes, there are those who make such wild promises about the Christian life.

I wish I could tell you that they are right. I wish I could tell you that becoming a Christian means an immediate end to all manner of struggle and that you can skip through life with increasing health, wealth, and happiness. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you that. Certainly there may be a rare minority that experience such things, but for the vast majority of us, we continue to struggle with all the ordinary trials life puts forth. Both those external and those within. Even after our conversion, we are still existing here in a fallen world, after all.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul is candid about one of his personal struggles, describing it as a “thorn in his flesh.” We do not know specifically what this is, some speculate it may have been some form of demonic hindrance to his ministry in Corinth, but whatever it was, Paul makes it clear it was enough of a burden he was desperate to be rid of it. He writes: “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

Indeed, God’s grace is sufficient. For all of us.

One of my favorite passages in all of Scripture is Romans 8:1: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” This verse immediately follows Paul’s description of his continuing struggle with sin in Romans 7:14-25, which I feel is worth repeating here: “The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Picture the scenario if you will. Paul, a Christian by direct, personal revelation from Jesus Christ Himself; the very man through whom the Holy Spirit wrote most of the New Testament, surely a Christian among Christians, describes for us his personal struggle with ongoing sin. And it is this passage, perhaps more than any other in Scripture, with which I can personally relate. I feel my course has been one of steady improvement since my conversion, and surely some of the most vile of my sins remain behind me, but I am still quite surprised at the velocity and frequency with which I can fall into sin. “Oh, what a miserable person I am” indeed.

In the Bible, Paul is not alone in his ongoing struggle with sin. Scripture is replete with men of faith who experience personal failure. Witness David and his adulterous affair with Bathsheba or Peter and his thrice denial of Jesus. Space doesn’t allow me to dive deep into all the Bible characters and their specific circumstances, but I know I am not alone in my struggle. And I hope you know you are not alone, either. Whether you are struggling with external circumstances, or your own ongoing battle with bad habits, you are not alone. And you are not left to contend on your own. God gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit (see Ephesians 1:13) to help us recognize when we fail, and to learn and grow from our experiences.

Once we become Christians, we start the journey of sanctification. That is, we start growing in Christlikeness. With rare exception, this is a process of steady growth over all the remaining years of our lives. We can take certain steps to help the process; such as regular Bible reading and prayer, church membership, and interaction with other Christians. Intentional participation in activities such as Bible study small groups can really help us. At least, that has been my experience.

Always remember that Christians aren’t perfect. We’re just forgiven. And if you have not yet found a relationship with Jesus Christ, I hope you will consider taking that step now. It won’t make your life instantly better, but it will make you instantly forgiven!

May God bless you richly! Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

 

To Be Counted Among The Wise

Wise Guy 1  Solomon succeeded David as king of Israel about 970 B.C. We do not know with certainty his exact age when he became King, but a study of Scripture suggests he was born around 990 B.C. which would make him about twenty years old when he took the throne. Think about any twenty-year-old you know right now, and you can imagine that becoming the ruler of a nation at that young age would present certain challenges. Solomon saw this, too, and described himself as “being like a little child” in his conversation with God in 1 Kings 3.

I do not think many twenty-something young men these days are too quick to see their own fallibility, so I think it is a safe assumption that it was an act of great humility for a man so young to recognize the limitations of his youthfulness. And as we shall see, the Lord agreed. Let’s look at Solomon’s conversation with God in its entirety; which is found in 1 Kings 3:5-14.

‘That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” Solomon replied, “You showed great and faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued to show this great and faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne. “Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life!  And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.”

Solomon knew what to ask for but maybe even more importantly, he also knew who to ask! And the result was that he became the wisest mortal person to ever live! These days, we have self-professed “gurus” seemingly on every corner. From our own friends and family, to talk-show hosts and Hollywood celebrities, to authors and motivational speakers, we are inundated with advice. Some might be good, some is clearly bad, and most of it, perhaps, is just what our itching ears want to hear.  The  Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:3: “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.” And the prophet, Jeremiah, warned us: “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.” (Jeremiah 17:9)

Because we really can’t trust ourselves to always discern correctly between good advice and bad, we need a source that has been proven trustworthy; and that source, as Solomon so famously knew, is the Word of God. When Solomon asked God for wisdom, he got more than he ever imagined and his wisdom became legendary. The Bible says “God gave Solomon very great wisdom and understanding, and knowledge as vast as the sands of the seashore.” And that “kings from every nation sent their ambassadors to listen to the wisdom of Solomon.” (1 Kings 4:29,34)

Fortunately for us, we have the entire Bible to turn to when we need wisdom. The Bible has this to say about itself: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16) James wrote this, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” (James 1:5) And in the book of Job, “But true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are his.” (Job 12:13)

I simply cannot say it better than God, so I think it more sufficient to simply share a few of my favorite verses on wisdom:

O Lord, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures. (Psalm 104:24)

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever! (Psalm 111:10)

Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:2-6)

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold. (Proverbs 3:7,13,14)

Sensible people keep their eyes glued on wisdom, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth. (Proverbs 17:24)

No human wisdom or understanding or plan can stand against the Lord. (Proverbs 21:30)

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher, and he gives the farmer great wisdom. (Isaiah 28:29)

He said, “Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. (Daniel 2:20)

But wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it. (Luke 7:35)

God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

In him (Christ) lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colassians 2:3)

It is our prayer you will grow in understanding as you turn to the one true source of wisdom, the Word of God. For those who are saved, God also gave us the Holy Spirit to help us with understanding and discernment. When we pray first, and read his Word daily, we find that God will transform us into new people by changing the way we think. (Romans 12:2) And if you do not yet know Christ as your Lord and Savior, now is the perfect time to seek him. For all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. For more information, please click this link:

KnowGod.org

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

With Fear & Trembling

Fear & Trembling 3 Have you ever wondered to yourself, “Am I really a Christian”? Perhaps you recognize you have fallen for that same old sin once again or you’re just not sure there has been that much change in your life. Or maybe you feel you’ve been a Christian all your life but you are now beginning to question your salvation. Whatever may be the reason you have engaged in such self-reflection, I want to assure you it is a good thing!

Paul instructed Christians to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. (Philippians 2:12 NIV) This direction refers to sanctification, which is the process of bringing to fulfillment that which started with our salvation. So, becoming a Christian begins with justification, which happens when we first accept Christ as our Savior, and continues with our growth in holiness, or sanctification. Once a person is saved, changes begin to occur. For some these changes may come more slowly than for others, but they always come.

When Paul refers to “fear and trembling” he is referring to the attitude with which the Christian is to pursue his or her sanctification. It involves a healthy fear of being offensive to God and a conscientious awe and respect for Him. Peter likewise tells us to “work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen” (2 Peter 1:10) and that “the more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:8)

So, asking yourself the question “am I really a Christian” can be part of the process of sanctification in your life and is, therefore, a good thing. Though you may also wonder: “isn’t being a Christian just a matter of asking Jesus into your life and then you are saved?” And we should address that first. Yes, once we repent of our sins and believe in the atoning work of Jesus Christ, we are saved and thus we are saved by faith alone and not by works. However, the issue lies in that little word “repent”.

The Greek word from which we get our verb “repent” is metanoeō and signifies a changing of one’s mind or purpose for the better and includes remorse for sin. So when we “repent” we change our minds about the way we are living and we accept that God’s way is true and correct. King David displayed true repentance in Psalm 51 concerning his sin with Bathsheba: “For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.”

Wondering if we are truly saved, then, can start with reflecting on our repentance. Did we truly repent?  Are we truly remorseful? Are we truly seeking to live God’s way now? If you cannot point to a specific time and place where the answer to these questions became “YES” then perhaps you are not truly a Christian yet. You may still be at the justification stage, and I encourage you to really work through this. But if you can point to a specific time and place where you repented, you are likely in the sanctification process and reflecting on your spiritual growth is healthy and productive.

When we repent and accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are given the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. And it is the Holy Spirit that works in us during the process of sanctification, helping us to change the way we think. In Romans 12:2 we read: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” When Paul says “let God” in this verse he implies a willingness, on our part, to let God act in our lives. We certainly can, at times, have less such willingness than at others. But, if we are truly Christian, the Holy Spirit nudges our conscience and we eventually grow in the direction of God’s Word and we come to know that “the old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

To the Galatians Paul wrote: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” (Galatians 5:24-25) When we repented, we agreed with God that the way we were living is wrong (and thus we nailed our passions and sinful desires to the cross of Christ), but that doesn’t necessarily mean we immediately overcame the sin in our lives. That process, the process of sanctification (following the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives), takes a lifetime and we are never 100% free of sin until we are in heaven with Jesus.

But Paul did provide a list of the results of our sinful nature (we’ll call this the “bad things” list). According the Galatians 5:19-21, the bad things are – “sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.”

And he also provided a “good things” list, in Galatians 5:22-23, the good things (fruits of the Spirit) are – “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

These lists may be a bit of a theological oversimplification in our context here, but if you can point to that specific time and place of your true repentance and you can honestly say you are desiring and realizing more from the “good things” list in your life and less and less of the “bad things,” then it is likely you can honestly answer that you truly are a Christian. A true Christian also recognizes that the Bible, God’s Word, is the final authority for all things right and wrong. For it is written that “all Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

I hope this provides you some insight into “working out your salvation with fear and trembling”. If you desire more information, we recommend the following resources:

KnowGod.org

Grow Your Faith

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

To stay current on Reign Drops, like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ReignDropsBlog/

Or follow us on Twitter: @ReignDropsBlog

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

The Reason for the Season

christmas-tree2 Christmas is here once again, and many of us are busy making those last minute shopping trips to find just the right gift for that special friend or family member. And whether you live in an area with a snowy white Christmas or a warmer tropical setting or somewhere in between, the stress of holiday shopping and the budgetary strain seems to affect us all. Between fighting the crowds at our local mall or paging through the websites of our favorite on-line retailers, the commercial aspect of Christmas can be challenging. It is amidst all this stress that I’d like to encourage you to take time to reflect on the real reason for the season, the birth of Jesus Christ.

In this regards, it is very fortunate for us that Luke took the time to thoroughly research the facts surrounding the birth of Jesus while those facts were still contemporary and that he composed those facts into a written record that is still available to us today in his Gospel. But can we really trust the record Luke left? Well, the evidence supporting the historical accuracy of Luke’s narrative is myriad, but let’s look at one specific piece of evidence right now. First, we’ll start with an excerpt from the Gospel of Luke:

Luke 2:1-21 – At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.

This part of the Christmas story starts with a census being taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. Publius Sulpicius Quirinius is known to have governed Syria during 6-9 A.D. Josephus records that a census taken in 6 A.D. sparked a violent Jewish revolt, this is also mentioned by Luke in Act 5:37. Quirinius oversaw this census and played a major role in putting down the rebellion. But this cannot be the census Luke is referring to here in the Christmas story because it occurred much too late to fit Luke’s chronology. Luke was far too meticulous in his recounting of events to be accused of such a chronological error.

And, indeed, archaeology has upheld Luke’s accuracy. A fragment of a stone tablet discovered near Rome in 1764 contains an inscription in honor of a Roman official who was twice governor of Syria during the reign of Augustus. The name of this official is not found, but details listed among his accomplishments could fit no one other than Quirinius. Thus, we conclude that Quirinius served as governor twice. And other ancient records mention a “first” census being ordered by Augustus in 8 B.C. Evidently, this earlier census was not carried out in the Palestinian region until 2-4 years later, perhaps due to political difficulties between Rome and Herod. But Luke does state in verse 2 that the events he recounts occurred at the time of the “first” census taken while Quirinius was governor (obviously indicating there were more than one). Thus, Luke’s accurate rendering of these historic events is validated by the evidence and can be considered completely trustworthy.

Based on this decisive evidence, we can conclude that Luke’s telling of the Christmas story is reliable and I hope by presenting this evidence here it helps you see that Christmas really is a celebration of true historical events. And, as such, it should inspire us to pursue a relationship with our Creator who loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son to live among us, to die for us, and to be raised again that we might be reconciled to Him. Yes, Jesus truly is the reason for the season!

With this in mind, then, we see that the greatest Christmas present ever is the gift of grace given by God through the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This Christmas season is a perfect time to accept that gift, if you haven’t already. Just take a few minutes to get by yourself and talk to God. Admit your wrongs to Him and turn your heart and mind toward Jesus (this is called repentance). Then confess Jesus is Lord and promise to follow Him to the best of your ability. As it is written, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

May you have a very Merry Christmas!

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.