Santa Claus

Santa Claus! We hear a lot about him this time of the year. We see images of him. We see him in stores. We see him meeting with children at the mall.  We see him on TV, and we hear songs about him on the radio. We see him on our neighbour’s front lawn as a decoration. There are even parades in his honour. As we decorate our houses and as we prepare to celebrate Christmas with our families, we should take a moment to answer this question: “How should Christians think about Santa Claus?”

First, let’s take a look at Santa Claus. Have you ever noticed how God-like Santa is? Santa can be everywhere at the same time, like God. Santa seems to be all powerful (flying, going down chimneys, etc), like God. Santa never grows old and he seems to be eternal, like God. Santa is the judge and determines who has been good or bad, like God. Santa knows everything (he knows if you have been bad or good), like God. Parents are even telling their children to obey because they have to be good for Santa to bring them toys, instead of telling their children to obey because of God (Ephesians 6:1). Kids and adults are also told that their gifts come from Santa, but the Bible says that every good gift comes from God (James 1:17). I could go on and on! As Christians, we know that there is only one God. Isaiah 45:5 says “I am the Lord, and there is no other”.

Next, let’s look at Philippians 4:8. This verse shows us how to think in a way that is pleasing to God. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”Let’s take a look at this list. Writing to the Philippians, Paul starts this list by saying that our thinking should be on things that are true. Is Santa Claus true? Next, Paul talks about thinking about things that are honorable. Is our focus on Santa honorable to God? Having looked at how God-like Santa seems to be, are our thoughts about Santa Claus pure, right and lovely to God? Would God agree that our thinking about Santa is commendable and excellent? Is Santa Claus worthy of praise?

Evaluate yourself and examine how you incorporate Santa Claus into your family’s celebration of Christmas and how you present him to your children. Are you honoring God and giving Him glory? Or, are you giving the honour, the glory and the praise that God deserves to another? How should Christians think about Santa Claus? Look to Philippians 4:8 for the answer.

The National War Memorial – A Sacred Place

This week, the elders of Emmanuel Baptist Church would like to share with you this blog post written by Pastor Bill Morgan of Grace Baptist Church in Schreiber, Ontario.

The funeral service for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo last week at Christ’s Church Cathedral in Hamilton was very moving. All of the proceedings, beginning with the procession of the horse drawn carriage up to the entrance of the building and ending with the motorcade heading out to a private family burial, touched us all . I, for one, was glued to the wonderful coverage that I viewed on CBC. Every aspect of the church service was done with the greatest respect and I trust each Canadian viewer was proud of how we, as a nation, came together to pay tribute to one of our soldiers. It was truly heart-warming to view the emotions pouring out from the spectators being interviewed outside of the church and then to see our Prime Minister being overcome as he addressed Nathan’s four year old son.

In contemplating the events as a Christian, a couple of statements caught my attention. Prime Minister Harper stated: “Freedom isn’t necessarily free.”, and one of the commentators alluded to the National War Memorial as a sacred place. Believers recognize that God’s Son paid for our freedom with His life. The freedom that we Canadians presently enjoy is only temporary and could be lost at some point in time. The freedom that Christians enjoy is both permanent for this present life, but is also eternal! There is not a greater freedom than the freedom from God’s judgment upon our transgressions, which we all commit daily. God promises deliverance from punishment to all who trust their lives to Jesus Christ and what He did for us at Calvary. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1)

Concerning being set free from the guilt and punishment of our sins, God’s promises are: “Then said Jesus to those Jews who believed on Him, If you continue in My word, then are you My disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:31,32,36) As Canadians, Christians recognize, with their fellow citizens, that the National War Memorial is indeed a sacred place, but the most sacred place for a Christian – or what we might refer to as “The Holy of Holies” is a place called Calvary, a hill just outside Jerusalem where Jesus Christ secured for us eternal freedom, there on that middle cross!

FREEDOM SECURED ON THE CROSS OF CHRIST – OUR SACRED PLACE

Pastor Bill Morgan
Grace Baptist Church
Schreiber, Ontario

Saved From What We Deserve

Before I was a Christian, I had no true purpose. Why would I? If God isn’t in the equation, then we’re all big blobs of bacteria floating through space, just waiting to die with nothing after. There’s absolutely no purpose.

Yet, the world will tell you that your purpose is to succeed, to be successful, to earn lots of money. 1 Timothy 6:10 says: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Jesus also said in Luke 9:25, what profit is it to a man, if he gains the whole world and loses his very own soul (in Hell)? You see, when you die, all of this is staying here. Nothing you owned or accomplished will matter. It’ll all pass away.

Take a look at what Jesus said in Matthew 24:35: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” This earth and everything in it, will pass away, it’ll all be gone one day, but Christ and His Words won’t be. Those are eternal things.

So, the only thing that will matter in the end, is whether or not you are right with God. If you had repented and turned away from your sins that we naturally love, in this life. Putting full trust in Jesus Christ alone. If you die without doing that, then you’ll spend an eternity in a place called Hell. That won’t be a place to party with your friends. It’ll be a place where you’ll be tormented day in and day out! Without rest. Without even a split second of relief. For eternity. No going back.

You may say I’m trying to use scare tactics, but it’s simply the harsh reality. If I told you not to play on the highway, because you’d get run over by a vehicle, is that a scare tactic or the truth? You see, so many professing Christians are so afraid to preach the truth! They sway from the true Gospel of the Bible, which is the only Gospel! Paul says in Galations 1:8 that if ANY, even an angel, preach any other Gospel then what we’ve preached, let him be accursed!

There’s no such thing as a feel good Gospel. The Gospel doesn’t make you feel all nice inside, it tears you apart from the inside out! It shows you that you’re not a good person as we like to think we are. It shows you that we’re very corrupt and evil people, who truly deserve death and Hell, and don’t even deserve the next breath we take! See, that’s the problem with us, we feel a sense of entitlement. We are not entitled to anything. Do you understand that? Nothing. Zip. Zero. Anything short of Hell is a blessing!

This is why people hated Christ. This is why people hate the Gospel. This is why we are hated for the name of Christ and the Gospel. Jesus says in John 15:18 that when the world hates you, know that they hated Him first! The Gospel and everything about Christ goes against our sinful nature. Because God is very good, and we are very bad! The fact that God saves anyone is a miracle, because we don’t deserve to be saved. We deserve to be tormented in Hell for sinning against a perfect and holy God! God is pure, we’re corrupt.

Yet, Christ came and died on the cross, so that whoever believes and repents, can be blessed with what we don’t deserve – to be forgiven and spend eternity in Heaven with our God and Saviour. Christ took what He didn’t deserve, He took what we deserved. We deserve to have God’s wrath poured upon us in full. But God isn’t willing that any should perish. He will judge and punish all those who refused to repent and turn away from their sins, with an eternity in Hell. This is the harsh reality no one likes to accept. All you need to do if you aren’t saved, is to humble yourselves, admit you are a wretched sinner deserving of Hell, repent of the sins you love, and God is faithful to forgive and credit the price Christ paid on that cross, to your account. If you’ll only repent and believe.

You see, that’s the true Gospel, that while we were still sinners, Christ came and died for us so we could be free from sin (Romans 5:8). That we could be bought with a price – the blood of Christ – out of the slavery to sin, to become slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:18). While it is true we are deserving of Hell, it isn’t God’s will any should perish. 2 Peter 3:9 says “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” God is longsuffering and rich in mercy. Look at what Ephesians 2:4-10 has to say: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone 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.”

While it isn’t God’s will any should perish, He is perfect, just, and holy, and therefore He must punish guilty sinners. We deserve that punishment, we deserve to have God’s wrath poured in full upon us, but because He’s so rich in mercy He provided an atonement through Jesus Christ. We’ve sinned against a perfect and holy God, He provided the atonement. How amazing is that? All you have to do is turn away from your sin in repentance, and put your trust in Jesus Christ. You can’t serve two masters. You’ll either serve Christ, or you’ll serve unrighteousness. Matthew 6:24 says this: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

You must come to Christ in humility, because you’ve sinned against a perfect and holy God. Nothing else. God doesn’t save us from a rough life on this earth, He saves us from what we deserve – an eternity of punishment. Going to God for anything other than forgiveness of our trespasses, is like going to a judge after you’ve committed murder and asking him to buy you a car. Doesn’t make much sense does it? Christians will be persecuted for their faith, but we have an incredibly joy in knowing Christ loved us so much that He died on a cross, paying the price we couldn’t. Who then rose from the dead on the third day, showing that He defeated and conquered sin and death, that sin no longer had a hold on anyone who would come to repentance and a saving faith. Our joy is knowing that when we die, we get to spend an eternity in a perfect place that has no more sorrow. A place with our King and Saviour. A place we didn’t belong to end up at, yet we were made worthy when we were born again, being born in the Spirit, and resurrected with Christ and in Christ.

Do I have a life of health and wealth because I’m a Christian? Not at all, that is a false gospel. Remember anything short of Hell is a blessing. I’m sick with a disease that affects my whole body, called Lupus, and I make very little money. But my life has purpose. What’s my purpose? To glorify my King and Saviour, to be a faithful servant by preaching the truth to all the world. To store up treasures in Heaven. In my sickness I can glorify God, because I know what I truly deserve is Hell, and I am forever grateful that Christ saved me, when I least deserved it. All I am, is a depraved wretch. To Christ, be the glory forever.

1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

Josh Lachapelle – A depraved wretch