Summary: Through the Advent of Christ, we have been given the gift of faith.
Something that consumes us at Christmas is giving and receiving gifts. The tradition of giving gifts is tied to the wise men who came bearing gifts for the Christ child. So we exchange gifts at Christmas. But often, the gifts we exchange do not meet our expectations.
A woman was asked by her husband what she would like for Christmas. She told him, “You can get me something that’ll make me look sexy and beautiful.” You can imagine her disappointment on Christmas morning to find an exercise bike under the tree.
I’d like to suggest that there are other gifts associated with Christmas - gifts that do not disappoint. Obviously, the chief gift of Christmas is the gift of God’s Son. Through giving His Son, the Father has made it possible for us to be blessed with many other wonderful gifts as well.
“He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all - how will He not also along with Him, graciously give us all things?” - Romans 8:32 (NIV)
Certainly, the number of “gifts” we have received because of the gift of Christ are more than we could count. However, the apostle Paul seems to identify for us those gifts that we receive through Christ that are the most valuable of all in 1 Corinthians 13:13: “Three things will last forever - faith, hope, and love - and the greatest of these is love.” - 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT)
It is because of the advent of Christ which we celebrate at this time of the year, that the gifts of God mentioned in Scripture are available to all. It is on these gifts of Christmas that I want us to think over the next few weeks. We begin today by thinking about the gift of faith. As we do, we should note that the Bible speaks of faith in two ways.
1. A doctrine to believe - Jude 3
“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” - Jude 3 (NIV)
The term “the faith” often speaks of truths that God has revealed to us, which were personified in Christ. It is important for us to understand how the Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ has provided us with “the faith” - the body of truth we embrace as Christians.
A. The historicity of the Advent of Jesus.
The body of truth we hold to as Christians has its source in words and works of a man who actually lived - Jesus of Nazareth.
“Some religions, both ancient and modern, require no historical basis, for they depend upon ideas rather than events. Christianity is not one of these.” - E.F. Harrison (Scholar)
“The cause we espouse is not grounded in a wispy vapor of antiquity, but on unshakable historical facts.” - Wayne Jackson
Christianity is not a set of philosophies or a set of dogmas collected throughout the ages and then prescribed as a system of religion to follow in an effort to connect with God. Christianity is all about our connecting with god in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, who was born into this world in order to connect with us. The fact that He was an actual person who lived is a matter of historical fact, as is our assertion that He was more than a mere man.
B. The authenticity of the Advent of Christ.
The name “Jesus” was given to Him upon His birth. The title of “Christ” was given to Him upon the examination of His life. “Christ” comes from the Greek word Christos, which means
“anointed.” Its meaning is the same as the Hebrew word “Messiah.” They both mean
“anointed” or “anointed one.”
The Old Testament foretold the coming of the “Messiah” or the “Christ.” Upon examining the life of Jesus, His followers became convinced that He was the “Christ,” or “Messiah” foretold by the Old Testament. When Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was, Peter declared, “You are the Christ . . .” - Matthew 16:16 (NIV). Over 300 Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah were fulfilled by Jesus! No wonder those who observed his life declared him to be the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy - the Christ!
Peter Stoner in Science Speaks (Moody Press, 1963) determined the probability of a man fulfilling only 8 Old Testament messianic prophecies to be 1 in 1017. He explains that if we covered Texas with 1017 silver dollars, they would be two feet deep. If we marked one silver dollar, stirred it in with the rest, blindfold a person and told him to walk across the state, and stop and pick out the marked silver dollar, what chance would he have of picking up the right one? The same as someone fulfilling 8 Messianic prophecies.