Truth is Truth

"You, O LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me." - Psalm 40:11 This is a sometimes monthly column concerning the truth of Christ Jesus and the issues that face our world as published in various newspapers and journals by Pastor Dave Seaford. You can return to the home page of the church by going to:

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Location: Redway, California, United States

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What Child is This?

One popular Christmas carol we sing asks the question,
"What child is this,
who, laid to rest,
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?"
And the chorus answers,

"This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the son of Mary."

The question that was no doubt whispered by outcast shepherds two millennium ago now booms forth as the greatest echoing question of our day. “What child is this”? Innumerable people have died and been tortured over the cause of His name and because of His message, and yet His message was a message of peace, love and eternal life.


People who stand in purposed and direct opposition to this “feed trough child” stand just as firm and seem even more willing to die for nothing but the opportunity to try to kill a few of us that have followed the star to the manger.
How could this child of a poor Jewish family generate so much passion and hatred in those that say they believe in the person of Jesus and even believe that He performed miracles that confirmed Him to be a prophet of God? The believers in Islam will even point out that the Koran clearly states that Muhammad could not do a single miracle to confirm his status as a prophet, yet they say he came to “correct” the “corrupted” message of our Lord. And they gladly die defending the message of the sword which they believe will conquer the world and cleanse it of all thing not Islamic. It is difficult, if not impossible for those of us in the West to understand a religion that teaches death and hatred as a theological answer to that which they oppose: “Peace on earth, good will to men.” After all we Westerners reason, what religion could survive such teachings of mass euthanasia? It seems sociologically illogical and theologically unpalatable. Yet there is something in the fallenness of men when left unattached to this manger born Jesus that actually prefers death to life and hatred over peace.
If what has just been said here in the last sentence is true, then even a very brief objective analysis of world news, the world religions and its belief systems will reveal a desperate world wide need for this child born in a stinkin’ stable. For this child is a savior whose weapon is Love and whose mission is life eternal.
Hebrews 1:2 says: “…but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” What Child is this? Now there is a beginning in the past: “He created the world” (John 1) and yet He has not any beginning Himself, and thus his birth into the flesh that we now celebrate, by itself proves life beyond this earthly body. The scripture also says that He is “the heir of all things.” This statement points to an end. Some folks occasionally ask me: “where is all of this going to end? Do you think that we are in the last days? Could this be the time that God is going to bring everything crashing down to a sudden end?” The question may seem unanswerable, but it is not. The answer is “maybe”! We can not say definitively “no” because it could happen before you finish reading this article. BUT we do know that an end is coming, because everything that has a beginning also has an ending, and even the most avid atheistic scientists today concede that all the universe had a “bang” of a beginning. The Bible confirms in its 2000 year old declaration what these scientists today are just now discovering (Matt. 24 Luke 21 and Mark 13). It all will end when the Son of Man returns in His glory and establishes His kingdom upon the earth. There he will be the Lion the Jewish people are looking for and there He will rule and reign because He is the “heir of all things.”
What Child is this? He is the one that “reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3). This passage of Scripture reveals an incredible truth in the present tense. It says that He is the One who is sustaining life and holding all the universe together in this very moment. The alternative is that He let go and that all of life would indeed come crashing to an end. In other words this baby in a manger both created and now sustains all of life and all of creation.
Scientists concur that this is true. Stanford University has a two mile long atom smasher that is discovering wonderful complexity in the universe that all point to something (or someone) that is holding everything together mysteriously. They call that something the “cosmic glue.” I think that it is amazing that right in our own Scriptures we find the same kind of language used to define the power that Jesus is now asserting. “All things are held together by him,” (Col. 1:17b).
What Child is this? He is the one that is said to have “…made purification for sins, (and then) …sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3b). The writer here takes us beyond the physical and external matters and into the very depths of the human dilemma, in defining the “What” of this child.
In light of all that is happening in the world today, the terrorist attacks, the wicked beheadings, the daily killings and tortures, the kidnappings, the molestations of our children, the wholesale disregard of human life, which was created in the very image of God, what can this child do? It was said that this child grew up to be “made the purification for (all these) sins.” We find here in the scriptural answer the very nature of the problem. The very nature of the problem is sin (or as Ray Stedman has said “human selfishness") and the answer to the problem is the reason for the incarnation of Christ AND the reason He now sits “at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” He sits there to make intercession for our human selfishness before the Father and to continue to hold all things together until He comes again.
What Child is this? I don’t know why He does not just come back now and put an end to the debauchery, but in His sovereignty He has already determined the time and place. In spite of the fact that I don’t understand the delay, He has a perfect purpose and to Him it is no delay at all. The poet James Russell Lowell puts it this way:

Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet ‘tis truth alone ‘tis strong:
Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne.
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown
Standeth God within the shadows,
Keeping watch above his own.

May God richly bless you with His presence this Christmas! Emmanuel. God is with us!