A Politically Incorrect Christmas Message

An exposition of 1 John 5:6-13. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday evening, December 14, 2008.

There was this seminary president, this Jewish rabbi and a Messianic Jew together in a television studio…I know it sounds like a bad joke but it was the setting for an episode of the Donahue Show on MSNBC back in August of 2002.  Al Mohler from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Shmuley Boteach – the rabbi, and Michael Brown were on the program to “discuss” whether Jews were “going to heaven” or if they needed to be converted to Christianity.  I was pleased that Mohler and Brown were the two representing our point of view because both are intelligent, articulate and gracious.  Traits that were definitely needed given that the program quickly degenerated into an attack on historic Christianity.  Mohler laid the ground work by saying, “Christians believe that all persons can go to heaven who come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  There is no discrimination on the basis of ethnic or racial or national issues…it is those who are in Christ.  The defining issue is faith in Christ.”  He later said that all people are sinners and in need of a savior.  He declared Jesus Christ as the sole mediator between God and man.  He also pointed out that the Gospel is first to the Jew and then to the gentiles.

That position was said to be, “the cause of anti-Semitism; that it reeks of prejudice and stirs the soul to evil behavior.”  The Christian Church was accused of, “trying to spiritually annihilate Jews by removing every last Jew on the face of the earth and converting them to Christianity and Jesus.”  Those who believe this Gospel were declared to be “spiritual Neanderthals with repulsive, revolting views.”  Evangelism was equated with “spiritual terrorism.”  But that was just in the opening moments of the program.  Things went downhill after that!

My point is we are living in a society that has already openly asked, “What does Christ have to do with Christmas?”  Our culture has done its best to remove any hint of spirituality from the Christmas season.  What is of greater concern to me is that an increasing number of folks seem to be asking, “What does Christ have to do with Christianity?”  The biblical Gospel, the historic message of the Christian church is not only questioned, it is openly denied and despised!  What is the church to do?  How are we to respond to the growing animosity?

Thesis: Our pluralistic culture, with its multiple paths to glory, demands that the church clearly, plainly and uncompromisingly set forth the biblical Gospel.

Text: 1 John 5:6-13

The problem in our culture is there are those who want to gut the content of the Christian faith but then live according to its ethic – and that is not possible.  The ethic is based on the content!  In John’s day there were those who had “moved beyond” the simple truths of the Gospel to so called “greater truths.”  They had moved on to a higher truth, into a secret knowledge.

In our text he addresses the historical context and makes some bold pronouncements about the Gospel.  Truths that we must boldly proclaim today.

I. John identifies Jesus as the one true Redeemer.  (5:6-8)
This is a difficult text – Plummer referred to it as, “the most perplexing passage in the Epistle and one of the most perplexing in the New Testament.”

The problem is first textual with some language found in the KJV in verse 7 that is not in the Greek manuscripts – “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost.”  But the greater difficulty is with the wording, “who came by water and blood…”

I’m convinced this is a reference to His baptism (water) and his crucifixion (blood). Thus John is identifying who Jesus is. He is of divine origin – “this is he who came…” He is identified with man  – “this is he who came by water…” He is the Redeemer – “this is he who came by water and blood…”

This is an emphatic statement.  The repetition is there to drive home the point – to deny any one element is to deny the whole.  If one element is missing – the others are incomprehensible.  John states this in a rather forceful way. Note the testimony of the Holy Spirit – 5:6-8.

II. John sets forth the testimony that must be believed.  (5:9-11)
John argues from the simpler to the greater. If we believe man’s testimony – surely we would believe God’s! John says we are accountable for this testimony – 5:10. This is strong language – to reject the testimony is to call God a liar! Note the simplicity of the testimony – 5:11.

What is John talking about in verses 9-11? He is talking about that inward witness of the Spirit in the heart of the believer. That witness that responds when we hear of the glory of Christ or the wonder of the Gospel.  That thing inside of us that shouts, “Yes!  I know that is true.”

When singing those great hymns of the work of Christ and that voice within says, “Amen!” But what if you do not have this witness?  Then seek Christ!

III. John unapologetically proclaims that Jesus Christ as the only means of being made right with God.  (5:12)
Any confusion or doubt is eliminated with verse 12. There can be no denying what John has been saying.
It is cut and dried. Our pluralistic culture, with its multiple paths to glory, demands that the church clearly, plainly and uncompromisingly set forth the biblical Gospel.

Salvation is found in Christ and in Christ alone.  That’s not a popular message but it is an essential truth.  It may be politically incorrect but it is the eternal truth.  There is no salvation apart from this truth.  Without it Christmas is without meaning.

This entry was posted in Advent 2008, Non-Series, Sermon Podcast, Sermon Series. Bookmark the permalink.