December 14th … 11 NIGHTS TIL CHRISTMAS


What you must do to establish a personal, intimate relationship with God.

  “For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all  people; a  light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” [Luke 2:29:30]


Simeon, who was guided by the spirit of God into the temple the very day and hour Mary and Joseph brought the baby to be dedicated to the Lord, took the child up in his arms and said some extremely important words. First off, he said “Mine yes have seen thy salvation.”

What does this mean? Salvation is no longer a commonplace word. Salvation means “to be saved”. People like Simeon who are “in the family” know what this means— but people who are not yet in the family need to have this explained.

A word that means “to be saved”, to make sense, has to be connected to “saved from what?” The salvation Simeon is talking about is Biblical salvation. Unfortunately, many people who still celebrate Christmas have no idea what it was their forefathers were thinking when they started celebrating Christmas. Add to this the confusion caused by stuff added to the celebration— “Jingle Bell Rock”, “Santa’s elves”, “the Grinch”, etc— and what we wind up with is a big package stuffed with shipping peanuts, but without any gift inside the box at all.

I looked up the word “celebrate” in the dictionary and I was amazed! The World Book Dictionary (©1963) emphasized “to observe (a special time or day) with the proper activities.” An older dictionary, “The New Century Dictionary” (©1927) defined celebrate as “to commemorate an event with ceremonies and festivities”. I would have thought that to celebrate meant “to rejoice over good news.” Which would mean, in my way of thinking, we celebrate good news precisely because there’s been some sort of victory over bad news!

So when we sing Silent Night, what do we mean when we come to the line “Christ the saviour is born”? Why celebrate the birth of a saviour if there’s nothing bad to be saved from? When Christmas is celebrated without a reference to Biblical salvation, it loses most of it’s meaning. Salvation from what? Saved from what?

There has been such a consistent attack on the Bible (this past 100 years especially) that the whole Western world has almost completely ignored the “bad news” the Bible has been warning us about for almost 3500 years. What is the bad news? The bad news is that the Creator God put a curse on the earth and it’s inhabitants because of sin. That curse is death. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. [Ezekiel 18:20]  That’s the bad news.

The good news is that God has provided a way to lift the curse in each of our lives. By sending his son Jesus Christ into the world, and allowing him to be crucified, God has provided a satisfactory way for sin to be forgiven. Christ is sacrificed on our behalf. His death pays our sin debt.

That’s why Jesus Christ is known in the Bible as the sacrificial lamb. John the Baptist announced Christ’s arrival to Israel: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” [John1:29]

So when Simeon said, “for mine eyes have seen thy salvation” he meant salvation from the curse of sin and death. And when he said “before the face of all people” he meant that this salvation is for everybody— all people, all over the World. When he added, “a light to lighten the Gentiles” he was saying, “this is good news that will make all people happy”— and to top it all off, when he said “and the glory of thy people Israel” —he was saying in effect, “of course this applies to all Israel too— all Jewish people also have the opportunity to be saved— but the fact that they were first to be  given this truth,  and that they have faithfully kept this truth alive for thousands of years will one day be their glory.”

What does this mean?  It means one day the whole world will rejoice and celebrate what the Jewish people have done for us all. One day when this is all over, when the curse is finally lifted, and when we are finally re-united with our loved ones, when death, disease, poverty, crime and war are finally eradicated— we will all rejoice, the whole human family, in the greatest celebration of all time— in the true sense of the word celebrate : to rejoice for the blessings of life, for the joy of being included eternally in the family of God, for the immeasurable joy of immortality in a restored and untarnished and eternal Creation.

 So when Simeon said, “for mine eyes have seen thy salvation” he was referring to rescue from sin and death, but when he referred to both Jews and Gentiles together in the same phrase, he was referring to another remarkable aspect of salvation— adoption. When we are saved by accepting Jesus Christ as saviour, we are adopted into God’s family. We become family: “For through him (Christ) we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” [Ephesians 2:18,19 ]

Hello out there, all you orphans! Hello out there, all those of you who have lost family members! Hello out there, those of you who look around the room and see some empty chairs! Hello out there,  all those feeling lonelier by the year! Hello out there, all those of you who understood what the Beatles meant when they sang, “Ah, look at all those lonely people!” (Eleanor Rigby) Beloved, we are all going to be lonely for only just a little while longer. Remember, when you are saved, you are adopted, and part of the family!

Imagine that! We Canadians, so far removed from the heritage of Israel, can become “fellow citizens” and “members of the household” — and as Ephesians 1:6 says, “accepted in the beloved” — when we take Jesus as our saviour!

So— the question is now, have you been adopted? Can you point to a time in your life when you were legally taken into the family of God and God became your father?

When did this happen and how did it happen?

Now it could never have happened at all if God had not somewhere said that it was even possible. But God says so in John 1:12 :   “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Notice it says “the power to become the sons of God”.

This means there has to be a time and place when you are adopted.

Biblical adoption is when God takes rebellious sinners who wish to turn from sin, and makes them into sons and daughters, and brings them into the family of God. When does this happen? After we have turned from our sins and lived a good life well-pleasing to God? After we have sworn to give up sin forever, to be perfect, to be absolutely obedient to God? If this were the case, how would we ever know when and if we had qualified? Our Muslim friends, our Jewish friends, and even many of our Catholic friends, who are taught they must live a good life before they can hope to be saved, can never point to a time when they qualified and were accepted. But we are not called to become acceptable before God will save us— we are called to accept Christ as saviour, and we are then made acceptable by God: “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” [Rom 10:9] It happens immediately when we hear and agree to His terms.

Salvation means to be saved from sin and death— if we could be perfect we wouldn’t need to be saved . When we recognize our miserable and fatal condition as sinners, and ask to receive Christ as saviour from our sins, that is the only condition required for adoption— “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.”

It’s precisely because we are orphans and have nothing to bargain with that he offers to adopt us into his family. When we come in our poverty and need, then He adopts us— and after our adoption. when we realize we are part of his family, every day thereafter we have cause to rejoice and celebrate, especially at Christmas!!