Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” – Hebrews 1:1 – 3).
God’s purpose before the foundation of the world was to have a people that were “holy, without blame before him in love” and that this people would dwell with him in his kingdom and to live with him in peace and in abundance joy and life forever (Ephesians 1:4/John 10:10).
However, before this could happen, the sin problem had to be dealt with and resolved. Sin must be removed as a guilty stain from the person God wanted to save.
God loves all sinners, but he hates the sin that ruins their lives, in much the same way that all bosses love their fellow workers but hate any cheating, stealing and dishonesty that may occur amongst them. No-one in their right mind - no family, no business, no organisation or institution in this whole wide world, would ever want dishonesty, thieving, cheating and lying in the relationship.
God, therefore, in the beginning, thought about how to express himself on behalf of man. That thought was God, who himself was made flesh and dwelt among us and was called the “Son of God” or “Immanuel,” meaning “God with us” (John 1:1, 14/Mathew 1:23).
That thought in the mind of God became a reality in the fullness of time (Galatians 4:4) and was the visible expression of the invisible God (Hebrews 1:1-3).
This son was given the name Jesus the Christ, who was to die as the lamb of God to save mankind from all his sins in order to restore and reconcile mankind back from his long separation from his creator, God, due to his sin problem.
It was Jesus who came to be sin for us, to pay the price of our transgressions that we might be made the righteousness of God though him (1 Corinthians 2:21/Isaiah 53).
It was He, Jesus, who first preached the Gospel and delivered it to his apostles as the only way for our salvation. He commanded them to teach all nations that they must repent of their sins, turn away from their wicked ways and be baptised in His name, Jesus, beginning at Jerusalem (Mathew 28:19/Luke 24:47/Hebrews 2:1-4).
“Except we believe that He is the one, the only one, we cannot be saved and will die in our sins” (John 8:24/Acts 4:10-12). That thought which was from the very beginning of time, finally materialised when 120 believers who gathered in the Upper Room in Jerusalem in obedience to their Master Jesus Christ’s instruction, were filled with the Holy Ghost: “And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49/ Acts 2:4). Thus, God’s divine and perfect plan of salvation was ushered in as our only safe way back to God, not like what their Jewish forefathers of old have done or practiced.
When the Apostle Peter to whom Jesus gave the keys of the kingdom of God (Mathew 16:19) announced to the crowd gathered there on Pentecost Sunday, the beginning of a new covenant.
It was not written on a tablet of stone, but upon the hearts of men. Peter said to them; “Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:38,39).
Three thousand souls responded and believed in all that Peter preached that day. They received also the fulfillment of Joel 2:28, when the Holy Ghost came upon them and they were added to the 120 as the first converts to the very first Church of Jesus Christ born on Pentecost Sunday, hence the beginning of Christianity.
Ancient Judaism continued in the belief system of their forefathers and still do to this very day unless they turn and believe that Jesus Christ is the true Messiah, God come in the flesh, who died on Calvary’s Cross, shed his blood for the remission of all of mankind’s sin. By His Holy Ghost all mankind shall be saved and sealed unto the Day of Redemption (Ephesians 1:13/4:30).
No believers in any church of the New Testament ever came into the Church of Jesus Christ any other way but through obedience to the Word of God that Peter delivered on that very first Pentecost Sunday, recorded in Acts 2: 38.
The real and true Spirit of Christ’s birth is simply obeying Acts 2:38 and living that new birth experience in the Living Spirit of the Living Christ to our life’s end, and until the day He receives us into His glorious and eternal kingdom.
Most Christmas celebrations today are sadly and unfortunately watered down or have been badly twisted and robbed. This has happened for a number of reasons including commercialisation, whereby people are drawn to wasteful, extravagant, unnecessary spending.
Paganistic practices have also become prevalent. Many, even churchgoing and professing Christians allow themselves to fall into the temptation of drunken parties, participating in unbecoming and ungodly celebrations. Yet they still call them Christmas “celebrations.”
Then there is the influence of religiosity. Christ never left a word or scripture saying we should celebrate his birth, but only his death through holy communion and foot-washing: “As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death until he returns…if ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” referring also to foot-washing (1 Corinthians 11:23-32/ John 13).
We need to celebrate the Jesus of the Holy Bible not the Jesus of hollow religions.
God save, protect, preserve and sanctify our paradise Cook Islands!
Bishop Tutai Pere,