ImageMany years ago I preached a series of sermons on the titles of Jesus from Isaiah 9:6: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  At the door one of my parishioners said to me: "Pastor, I have to tell you that I have never had a headache while listening to a sermon.  You gave me one today!"  It must have been this brother's spiritual cousin who said to a colleague in another church: "I come to church to be made to feel good, not to think!"

The birth stories of Jesus give us opportunities to think about God in so many different ways.  The birth of Jesus Christ has more poems than any recorded birth, it has more songs than any prince, and it has more works of art than any sovereign.  The birth of Jesus Christ welcomes each person by the manger's great humility and stretches the best minds as they try to figure out how the everlasting God has taken upon Himself human flesh.  This birth changes history, yet its miraculous star while it attracted the magi from the East, did not produce any popular excitement in the Judean markets.

For the first four centuries of Christendom, the apologists of the Christian faith and the best preachers have heralded the story that Jesus was fully God and fully human.  Take away these confessional statements and you have either a Jesus who is not fully human and therefore cannot relate to us or who is not fully God and therefore not capable to save us.

The Docetic heresy proclaimed that Jesus Christ appeared to be human, but he was not fully human.  They held this view because they had a low view of human nature.  God was too holy to become one of us.  Our nature was too sinful for the Son of God to be clothed in our nature.  As lofty as the Docetic position is about God's holiness it is faulty and heretical about his humanity.  Jesus was one of us and walked among us and he was tempted like us (because he was fully human), and suffered the agony of the cross in his body.

The Arian heresy held the opposite view.  Jesus was God, but not with a capital G, not one who had the same substance as God the Father.  He was a lower god, he was a created God.  He had a beginning.  He was superior to us and God loved Him above us, but nevertheless he was not like God.  Athanasius replied that a god as described by Arius cannot save us – we are still in our sins and trespasses.

The major magazines around the two major Christian holidays (Christmas and Easter) run feature articles trying to reduce the fullness of Jesus Christ.  They hire these scholars to saw doubt because they do not believe and want to lead others in the same direction with them.  In some of our churches, pastors are not willing to struggle to come with a solid understanding of who Christ is because this will involve some solid reading, preaching and meditation.

I encourage you to read the Christmas stories in the gospels.  Reflect on them, pray for wisdom!  Listen to sermons, read articles and books and be convinced of what you believe.  This Jesus that you believe, is He the revelation of God the Father or the creation of some scholar who has been sowing doubt about the Person of Jesus Christ, the beloved Son whom the Father sent to this earth for our salvation?

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...