Hebrews 1:1-4 and Christmas Makes Christianity Different

20150802Every religion in the world has a list of rules that were given, in some form or fashion, from on high. Adherents to that religion then need to do the best they can to live up to those rules and laws. At the end (either one’s personal end or the end of all things), these people will be judged by how well they kept those laws. Whether it is Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, or any other religion, this is how it works. The vision and understanding of what a reward is may be different, but the process is the same.

Christianity is different, though. It is different precisely because of who Jesus Christ is. He is the One True God who came in the flesh. Look at the introduction to the Book of Hebrews:

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by the Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

The reality of Christianity is that it is not a message that was given by human prophets nor is it a message that was mediated by semi-divine beings like angels or demigods. Instead, the One True God came to this world and gave us the truth of the Gospel. Because of God’s presence on earth in Jesus Christ, we now have access to the very presence of God in heaven.

God, through his ministry on earth, has opened the heavens to us. Instead of us trying to work our way to the presence of God through following a legal code, God comes to us and offers himself to us. The requirement on our part is that we offer ourselves to him and live for him. It is not a long list of rules and laws we are to follow, but rather it is a life of love for God and all other people that we are to live, and the presence of the Living God in our lives actually enables us to do this. We are not left alone, struggling to climb our way to God. God has come to us and offers us his grace and power in our lives to remain in his presence.

Christmas is about God coming to earth to eliminate the distance between us and him. Christmas is about the Son, the Living God, who took on flesh and dwelt among us so that we could dwell with him.

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1 John 2:22-23 and Antichrist

Left_BehindAntichrist is a multi-million dollar enterprise.  There are countless books predicting the rise of the antichrist, showing (if not who specifically) exactly when and where and under what circumstances the person will appear.

According to John, however, there are lots of antichrists and they have always been around.  Here is what he says:

Who is the liar? Isn’t it the person who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This person is the antichrist: the one who denies the Father and the Son.  Everyone who denies the Son does not have the Father, but the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.

Anyone who denies God is antichrist.  Specifically, anyone who denies the Son is God does not have the Father, and therefore is antichrist.  This flows right out of the theology in the Gospel of John, where Jesus tells his disciples that if they have seen him they have seen the Father, Colossians 1:15-20,  and Hebrews 1:1-4.

This is why, contrary to some opinions, Islam cannot be counted in the same family tree as Christianity.  The Islamic faith does have a place for Jesus, but their Jesus is not the Jesus of the New Testament.  They deny that Jesus is God the Son, the second person of the Trinity–Light from Light, true God from true God, of one substance with the Father.  Their Jesus is a prophet who was mighty in word and deed, but paltry and weak compared to the Christian truth about him.

This also cuts to the heart of much liberal (Christian and otherwise) scholarship concerning Jesus, which feeds into the image of a holy person (perhaps a prophet) who was just more connected to God than other people.  This is antichrist, since it denies God the Son–and therefore those who hold to such interpretations do not even have the Father, according to John.

For an understanding of Jesus to be Christian, it has to know Jesus as God in the flesh.  Anything less than this understanding is antichrist.  And if Jesus is God, then those who would follow him have a duty and responsibility to obey him.  This is not always easy.  Just look at this write-up of one of his sermons.