As we approach Christmas, it is a perfect time to reflect upon the true nature of the babe of Bethlehem. It is certainly in vogue these days, at least in some circles, to downplay doctrinal distinctions and creedal formulations when discussing Christ. Some folks feel it is more inclusive to leave things rather loose and free. They feel that a rigid definition of the Prince of Peace would end up offending people.
But does a watered-down Christ, and a warm and fuzzy definition of Jesus match what Scripture reveals concerning the Son of God?
When Christianity was first getting off the ground after the risen Christ "appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time," (1 Cor. 15:6) there was much excitement and rejoicing among those who trusted the Savior and followed Him as their Lord. But it was also a time when false doctrines about Christ were being conjured up by dark angels and false prophets who had their own agenda based on their "hollow and deceptive philosophy." (Colossians 2:8)
The apostle Paul wrote a letter "to the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse" (Col. 1:2) because false teachers were promoting the idea that Jesus was not actually God in the flesh. This was no minor error, and it threatened to undermine the spiritual foundation of anyone who bought into the "fine-sounding arguments" (Col. 2:4) of those false teachers.
After all, anyone who denies that Jesus is God is definitely dwelling in spiritual darkness, and therefore cannot see "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." (2 Cor. 4:6) Dark angels and false prophets despise the biblical doctrine Paul spelled out to the Christians at Colosse when he wrote, "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form." (Col. 2:9)
It's true my friend. Jesus is God along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and Jesus is also the Creator of the world. Paul wrote, "For by Him (Christ) all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." (Col. 1:15-17)
"You mean to tell me that the One born in Bethlehem actually created the world?" Absolutely. You see, Jesus has always existed as the eternal God, but He didn't have a human nature until He took on human flesh and was born of a virgin. (Luke 1:27) And some 33 years later, the Messiah "humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:8)
If you get the nature of Christ wrong, you won't understand or believe the good news of salvation that is found only in the Gospel. (Romans 1:16,17) Paul wrote that such a person "has lost connection with the Head," (Col. 2:19) meaning with Christ Himself. The book of Colossians is a beautiful treatise on the Deity of Jesus Christ, and this epistle hit the nail on the head at a time when a number of people had decided to "depend on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." (Col. 2:8)
And then as Christianity spread during those early centuries, believers found it helpful to put together a few written summaries of the Christian faith. The Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed are the most well-known of these excellent summaries of the faith, and declare among other things that Jesus "was conceived by the Holy Spirit" and was "born of the Virgin Mary." (Apostles' Creed) In addition, Jesus is "very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made." (Nicene Creed)
These doctrines about Christ are not secondary issues. In fact, those who reject the Deity of Christ reject the truth about God, and those who reject the virgin birth of Jesus demonstrate their refusal to believe in the supernatural power of God. The Son of God was born of a virgin, and the Messiah went on to suffer and die for our sins on the cross so that "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)
The creeds of Christianity lay out the doctrinal nature of our faith, which has been "handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the Word." (Luke 1:2) While some of Paul's epistles were written at least in part to warn Christians about false teachers in their midst, the creeds were put together in subsequent centuries as a way of summarizing Christianity and presenting the essential beliefs in a brief statement of faith.
Those today who scoff at the creeds of Christianity tend to be folks who reject the doctrine of the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, and the fact that Jesus is the only way to the Father. (John 14:6) The false teachers in the first century of Christianity would have rejected the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed if they had still been alive when those creeds were formulated. False teachers do not believe that Jesus is God in the flesh, even though some of them have no problem calling Christ a good prophet or even "a god." Thankfully, Scripture presents the true nature of Jesus and the supernatural ministry of the King of Kings.
The babe of Bethlehem truly is both God and man, as well as the Creator of all things. You see, it played out exactly the way the Lord said it would when He spoke to Joseph in a dream: "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21)
By the way, many of those who embrace the truth about Christ's nature also enjoy plenty of warm and fuzzy feelings. These feelings, when they come, are connected to the joy of a believer's salvation. Faith in Christ is what brings you into God's family, and not your feelings. (John 3:1-18) When good feelings come, enjoy them, but don't assume that the absence of feelings indicates an absence of faith. Christians sometimes experience very unpleasant feelings just like everyone else, and yet Christian faith clings to the Lord and to God's promises in the Bible regardless of personal feelings and emotions.
Isaiah prophesied 700 years before the Savior's birth: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6) And "when the time had fully come, " (Gal. 4:4) the Savior was born just as Isaiah had prophesied centuries earlier.
Micah was another prophet who ministered 700 years before Christ was born of a virgin, and Micah actually pinpointed the little town where the Messiah would be born: "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." (Micah 5:2)
"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel' - which means, 'God with us.'" (Matthew 1:22,23)
Christmas, Colossians, and Christian creeds all point to the one true God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And there is a gift from God under the tree of the cross with your name on it. Will you open God's gift to you this Christmas, and then walk closely with the Lord in the new year?
When the virgin Mary learned about her blessed role in God's plan of redemption, she exclaimed: "My soul praises the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." (Luke 1:47) With Christmas just around the corner, you can make this same choice. That is, the choice to rejoice in God your Savior.