Summary: This baby matters because He is the hope of salvation to sinners.
Series: Why This Baby Matters
Title: The Hope of Christmas (adapted from a Stott outline)
Text: 1 Timothy 1:15
Truth: This baby matters because He is the hope of salvation to sinners.
Aim: To clarify the message of Christmas.
Maybe you have heard of Liu Bolin. He is referred to as “the invisible man.” He paints himself into pictures so you can hardly see him. Many times a passerby will not even notice him unless he moves. (Have a slideshow move through the pictures as I explain.)
He graduated from a prestigious school of art in China. The government cracked down on artists and closed his shop. They even forbade artists to live together. He says his pictures convey his feelings that he did not matter. Usually, his pictures are scenes come from typical life in China.
His story made me think of Christmas and Christ. We have decorations, holiday sales events, public schools with their “Winter Break,” Santa Claus and reindeer, Scrooge, and holiday songs like “White Christmas.” With all that surrounds Christmas it may seem as if Christ is the invisible man standing in the midst of all that adorns this season.
Despite the activity and attractions of this holidy, the message still comes through that this baby matters because He is the hope of salvation to sinners. The clear, concise message of Christmas is God has provided salvation for sinners. Nowhere is that more succinctly stated than in 1 Timothy 1:15: This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners"—and I am the worst of them.
Paul is writing to his young protégé in the ministry. In chapter one Paul stresses the importance of maintaining true doctrine and refuting false doctrine. Truth matters. That is out of step with the pluralism and political correctness of our day. Paul gives Timothy two actions to take to advance the truth and refute error. Paul tells Timothy to preach the truth and practice a life-style that lives out the truth. Verse 15 is in this section. What truth is Timothy to preach? “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
This baby matters because He gives us the hope of salvation. There are four reasons for our confident hope of salvation. First, our hope is historically true.
I. OUR HOPE IS HISTORICALLY TRUE
Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.
The events of the Christmas story actually took place; they are historically true. There is not a legitimate historian in the world, believer or unbeliever, who does not accept the account of the birth, life, and death of Jesus Christ as a historical fact. Contrast that certainty with the debate over global warming. Since the disclosure of emails where scientists doctored or hid scientific evidence that did not support their assertion that the planet was in a warming trend, opinions are not so certain of the theory. In this post-modern culture where everyone seems to insist there is no such thing as truth, it is refreshing to come across a man like Paul who says plainly, “Here is the truth.”
There are two stories about Christmas that compete and get confused with one another. One story is about Santa Claus, flying reindeer, and a magical descent down a chimney. The other story is about a baby, a manger for a crib, shepherds, and angels. They have similarities: each speaks of a benevolent visit by an outsider in which generous gifts are brought to needy people. But there is this fundamental difference between them: the modern story surrounding Saint Nick, though he himself was real, is fantasy; Jesus Christ and the story surrounding Him is fact. The Gospel writers understood they were writing history, and the Gospel readers understood the story was true.
The Gospel writers were evangelists. They want to convert the lost to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. So it was important to them that we know this story is true. Consequently, they give very specific historical markers so we know exactly when the events took place. We know Jesus was born during the reign of the Roman emperor Augustus. We know He died when Pontius Pilot was the procurator of Judea. The birth and death of Jesus Christ took place during the reign of the Roman Empire. In other words, the incarnation of the Son of God becoming a human is verifiable and factual. Jesus Christ is not a fairy tale. He is not a legend or a myth. A myth is a religious idea that has no historical basis. The events of Christmas really did happen.
Everyone recognizes that the most important issue for a person to consider and decide is if there is a God. If there is a God then what kind of God is He? How foolish to spend your mortal life never considering your immortal life! The gospel story is written in such a way that it can be investigated to determine if it is true or a hoax.