The beautiful song, “Hallelujah”, written by Leonard Cohen, is a favorite among many. But this version just may become your new favorite this Christmas season as the lyrics have been rewritten to honor Jesus, telling the story of His birth. What a beautiful song to explain the real meaning of Christmas!
I have always considered that the sum and substance of the gospel lies in that word Substitution,—Christ standing in the stead of man. If I understand the gospel, it is this: I deserve to be lost for ever; the only reason why I should not be damned is, that Christ was punished in my stead, and there is no need to execute a sentence twice for sin. On the other hand, I know I cannot enter Heaven unless I have a perfect righteousness; I am absolutely certain I shall never have one of my own, for I find I sin every day; but then Christ had a perfect righteousness, and He said, “There, poor sinner, take My garment, and put it on; you shall stand before God as if you were Christ, and I will stand before God as if I had been the sinner; I will suffer in the sinner’s stead, and you shall be rewarded for works which you did not do, but which I did for you.” I find it very convenient every day to come to Christ as a sinner, as I came at the first. “You are no saint,” says the devil. Well, if I am not, I am a sinner, and Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Sink or swim, I go to Him; other hope I have none. By looking to Him, I received all the faith which inspired me with confidence in His grace; and the word that first drew my soul—”Look unto Me,”—still rings its clarion note in my ears. There I once found conversion, and there I shall ever find refreshing and renewal.
– C. H. Spurgeon
Linus explains what Christmas is all about. This section is why this is still a favorite of mine, and one we watch every year as a family.
And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God— 9 not because of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned— 13 sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. 17 If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
18 Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. 20 Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Praise God, who provided a way, through His own gracious sacrifice, for us to have freedom and life instead of the death we deserve.
“He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a peopleprepared.” —Luke1:16–17
What John the Baptist did for Israel, Advent can do for us. Don’t let Christmas nd you unprepared. I mean spiritu- ally unprepared. Its joy and impact will be so much greater if you are ready!
That you might be prepared…
First, meditate on the fact that we need a Savior. Christ- mas is an indictment before it becomes a delight. It will not have its intended e ect until we feel desperately the need for a Savior. Let these short Advent meditations help awaken in you a bittersweet sense of need for the Savior.
Second, engage in sober self-examination. Advent is to Christmas what Lent is to Easter. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23–24) Let every heart prepare him room… by cleaning house.
Third, build God-centered anticipation and expec- tancy and excitement into your home—especially for the children. If you are excited about Christ, they will be too. If you can only make Christmas exciting with material things, how will the children get a thirst for God? Bend the e orts of your imagination to make the wonder of the King’s arrival visible for the children.
Fourth, be much in the Scriptures, and memorize the great passages! “Is not my word like re, says the Lord!” (Jeremiah 23:29) Gather ‘round that re this Advent sea- son. It is warm. It is sparkling with colors of grace. It is healing for a thousand hurts. It is light for dark nights.
From John Piper’s Good News of Great Joy, which you can download for free here.
This is such a great article, another from The Imaginative Conservative. I know it is another post about A Christmas Carol. I don’t know why I have been so drawn to this story this year, but it has definitely resonated with me. It amazes me how something that you have been familiar with for the greater part of your life can suddenly take on new significance. Scrooge’s transformation has really touched me this year and I have just seen the story in a new light. This, my favorite quote from the article, really gets to heart of it:
The Church and the Feast of the Nativity are not side notes to Dickens’ tale, but rather the underpinning. It is the incarnation of God-made-man that allows for Ebenezer to be redeemed. Ebenezer lives this redemption out for the rest of his days, his immediate joy of being alive and having a second chance is fulfilled in living a life of cheerfulness.
You should definitely take ten minutes and go read the entire thing.