Come, Celebrate Christ
by Hank Hanegraaff
Each year as the Christmas season approaches,
people from all over North America call the Bible Answer Man broadcast asking
the same question: Should Christians participate in celebrating Christmas?
Many fear that because Christmas is celebrated on December 25 they might
inadvertently be commemorating the birthday of a pagan Roman god.
Nothing could be further from the truth. While we do not know the exact date
that Christ was born, we do know why the early Christian church chose to
celebrate Christmas on December 25. The church was not Christianizing a pagan
festival, but was establishing the celebration of the birth of Christ as
a rival celebration.
Today the world has all but forgotten about the pagan gods of Rome. But at
least a billion people today consider themselves to be followers of Jesus
Christ and celebrate that reality every Christmas. Tragically, in a
post-Christian America, multitudes are once again using Christmas to worship
a pagan god-a god called commercialism. To focus our attention on the real
reason for the season I've developed the acronym
C stands for the person who alone gives Christmas eternal significance
-- Christ our Lord. The name Christ means "Anointed" and the title
Christ points to his role as Lord, and Son of God. If Jesus is not the Christ
of your life, celebrating the birth of an obscure Jewish carpenter's son
is ultimately meaningless.
H stands for history. The birth, death and resurrection of
Jesus Christ are not myths or fantasies -- they are historical realities.
That God cloaked himself in human flesh is a verifiable historical fact.
While many still debate the meaning of Christ's life, few question its
historicity. As the apostle Peter put it, "We did not follow cleverly invented
stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty" (2 Peter 1:16).
R stands for rejoice. Christmas songs demonstrate that rejoicing
has always been the focal point of Christmas. We rejoice not for earthly
vanities, but for eternal verities. A gift of gold may last until we die.
The gift of God will last for all eternity. Jesus said, "rejoice that your
names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20). Likewise, the psalmist David says,
"rejoice in your salvation" (Psalm 9:14).
I stands for incarnation, a word which describes that glorious
event in which God became man. In the incarnation Christ cloaked himself
in human flesh. Although he took on the limitations of humanity, Christ did
not divest himself of a single attribute of deity. As man, he was our
representative -- the second Adam. As God, his death was sufficient to provide
redemption for all humanity. Paul writes, "God was pleased to have all his
fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things,
whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his
blood, shed on the cross (Colossians 1:19-20).
S stands for Saint Nicholas, the fourth-century Bishop of Myra
whose life exemplifies faithfulness and charity. Santa Claus is an anglicized
form of the Dutch Sinter Klaas, which in turn means "Saint Nicholas." Saint
Nicholas attended the Council of Nicea and supported the doctrine of the
Trinity. He was kind toward children and often gave them gifts. While Santa
Claus in its present form is a fairy tale, Christians can look to the real
Saint Nicholas as a genuine hero of the Christian faith.
T stands for tradition. Many Christmas traditions developed
as reminders of Christ. The Christmas tree, for example, symbolizes that
Christ brings us eternal life (evergreen) and is the light of the world (lights).
This tradition originated in Germany from a Paradise tree symbolizing the
tree of life and a pyramid holding Christmas figurines. In the 16th century,
these traditions were combined into the Christmas tree.
Some claim the Christmas tree is a pagan tradition forbidden in Jeremiah
10:2-4. At first blush this may sound plausible. However, a careful reading
demonstrates that God is condemning idols that are carved from wood and used
for worship. Rather than referring to Christmas trees he is ridiculing idols
that can neither walk nor talk.
M stands for the magi who serve as an enduring reminder that
no one is too wealthy, wise or worldly to leave all to follow Christ. As
they worshiped him with gifts of gold, incense and myrrh, we, too, are called
to worship him by offering ourselves as living sacrifices. Some disparage
the giving of gifts by claiming that the wise men gave gifts to Christ --
not to one another. That, however, misses the point. Christ himself tells
us that when we give to others we are giving to him (Matthew 25:31-46).
A stands for advent, a word referring to Christ's coming (from
the Latin adventus, "coming"). Christmas is a celebration of Christ's coming
in the town of Bethlehem.
The advent season begins four weeks before Christmas and is designed to turn
our hearts from the commercialism of the culture to a celebration of Christ's
This time of joyful anticipation not only serves as a celebration of the
Christmas season but serves as a celebration of Jesus Christ's second coming.
While once Christ came as a babe in Bethlehem, he will return as King of
Kings and Lord of Lords.
S stands for salvation. The gospel story is simple yet profound.
It is not found in religion but in a relationship with God. Christ became
flesh to restore the relationship broken by sin.
Sin separates us from God and separates us from others. Scripture says, "All
have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
God is the perfect Father who loves us with an everlasting love, but he is
also the perfect Judge whose very nature is too pure to tolerate sin. His
love and justice are reconciled through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Jesus died to be our Savior and lives to be our Lord.
As our Savior, he lived the perfect life that we could never live and offers
his perfection as an absolutely free gift -- we cannot earn or deserve it,
we can only live a life of gratitude for the gift he so freely offers us.
As Lord, Christ gives our lives meaning, purpose and direction.
This is particularly exciting when you stop to realize that the one who desires
to be the Lord of your life is the very one who spoke and the universe leapt
The Bible says, "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe
in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans
To make Jesus Christ the Savior and Lord of your life this Christmas season,
you need to take two steps. The one is repent, the other is receive.
Repentance means a U-turn on the road of life -- a change of heart and a
change of mind. Jesus says, "The time has come, the kingdom of God is near.
Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15).
To demonstrate true belief means a willingness to receive. To truly receive
means to trust in Jesus Christ alone to be the Lord of our lives here and
now and our Savior for all eternity.
As the angel announced to the shepherds, "I bring you good news of great
joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior
has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you:
You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger" (Luke
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