At the Christian Research Institute, it’s Christmas a couple of months early, and the reason for this is not just because we want to you get a book this year; rather, we want you to experience a tradition, and I want to start that tradition today by talking just a little bit about Immanuel.
Paul in Colossians 2:9 says, “In Christ all the fullness of the deity lives in bodily form.”
The reason we rejoice at Christmas is that the baby born to Mary and Joseph on the First Advent was no ordinary child. As Matthew records, this baby was the ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of Immanuel––“God with us” (Matt. 1:22-23). It was the ultimate self revelation of God to humankind! Jesus the Christ was and eternally is God incarnate (literally, “in flesh”).
Although John’s Gospel does not include a narrative of the birth and infancy of Jesus, the doctrine of the Incarnation is aptly summed up in his introduction when he writes: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God…the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14).
The clear testimony of Scripture is that, in the Incarnation, Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man; in other words, He existed as the perfect unity in one person of a divine and a human nature. Paul eloquently expressed the profound truth of the Incarnation in his letter to the Philippian Christians when he stated: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death even death on a cross (Phil. 2:5-8).
I’m going to pause for just a minute and remind you what death on a cross means. The word excruciating literally had to be codified or developed to fully communicate the horror of Christ’s passion on the cross.
As Theathropos the God-Man, the spotless “Lamb of God” (John 1:29) lived a perfectly sinless human life and died a sinner’s death to sufficiently atone, once and for all, for the sins of humanity (Rom. 5:1-21; Heb. 10:11-18). Without both natures, Christ’s payment would have been insufficient. As God, His sacrifice was sufficient to provide redemption for the sins of humankind. As man, He did what the first Adam failed to do. Says Paul, “For just as through the disobedience of one man, the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of one man [the second Adam] the many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19). Or as Paul explained to the Corinthians, “As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).
I love Paul’s letter to the Philippians. I love Paul talking about our attitude and that that attitude, the attitude that you have, that I have, should be the same as the attitude that Jesus Christ had. He was in very nature God and yet in the incarnation did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. He made Himself nothing. He’s the one who spoke and the limitless galaxies leapt into existence, and yet he made Himself nothing. Taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philip. 2:5-11). Think about that for just a moment…
The Heart of Christmas this year. It’s not just a book, it’s a movement. I talked with various guests on the October 22nd and 23rd, 2009 editions of the Bible Answer Man broadcast about just how special this book is and how significant the movement is. You can listen to those here and here.
This year I want you to begin early so you don’t miss the heart of Christmas. We want you to begin at the very beginning and take a trek to the heart of Christmas. Every year you no doubt prepare your house for Christmas. This year we want you to prepare your heart for Christmas.
If you’re honest with yourself, Christmas sneaks up on you just like it sneaks up on me. All of a sudden December 25th knocks at the door and we have been hustling and bustling, we have been involved in all kinds of activities, but we missed the heart of Christmas.
There is nothing as significant as recognizing, celebrating and sharing the spirit of Christmas with others, because with Christmas we have God invading time and space so that we could have a relationship with Him not just for time but–––think about this for a minute––for eternity. Now that’s an overwhelming thought. Forever, and ever, and ever, something that never ends. Think about the reality that every single person who knows Jesus Christ will experience Jesus Christ in flesh, in incarnation, in a new heaven and new earth.
We have many different options with The Heart of Christmas, from the hardcover book with an audio CD of instrumental Christmas carols (B1012/$21.99+shipping), the audio book (CD958/$9.99 + shipping), or six or twelve packs of the book and audio CD of instrumental Christmas carols to give to your family and friends (6 pack PK961/$71.99+shipping; 12 pack PK962/$134.99+shipping). All this is here! Also share your testimony about Christmas with us by calling toll free at 866-253-4656, e-mail us at [email protected], and share your Christmas stories, videos, and photos with our FaceBook fans here.
 Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1998), 197-198.