Christmas: Is Christ’s birth important to our faith?

Dear BPCWA worshipper, We will be having our Christmas Service this Saturday. Many churches and Christians do commemorate Christ’s death and resurrection. We intentionally plan many activities and meetings around this occasion for outreach as well. Yet, some say that Christians should not celebrate Christmas. Some oppose the celebration of Christmas essentially because they do not believe that Christ’s birth should be commemorated. Some quote Gal 6:14, saying that we should not “glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”. They say that salvation is only possible through faith in Christ’s death, not in His birth. Is this true?

The lesson behind Gal 6:14. As always, when quoting Scripture, we must look at the context in which that is taught. Why did the Apostle Paul teach this? To understand this, we must look at Gal 6:12-15. The Christians then were facing opposition by the Jews who “desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised”. Wanting to avoid the “persecution for the cross of Christ”, these Jews wanted to constrain the new believers in Christ to be circumcised, ie so as to allay the resentment of the other Jews who were against the new Christian faith in Christ. These insincere Jews were not advocating circumcision because they had a sincere motivation based on the Old Testament law, but merely to “save their own skins”.  When these false teachers taught the Christians to be circumcised, they would then be applauded by those who opposed the Christian faith and hence gloried in being able to convince the new Christians to be circumcised. But Paul states that he taught them out of allegiance to God, and not to please men. His message was the hard road because it meant that the Christians would suffer persecution for their faith, which the false teachers were trying to wiggle out of. Hence, Paul declares of his heart “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Gal 6:14-15). The mention about glory was to say that Paul taught with sincere motives. Paul would not change the message to please and gain praise from the people around him. As the true messenger of God’s truth, Paul would bear the same reproach that Christ faced – even to death. This is the unchanging message of the gospel – salvation is a free gift of God, but it comes with a cross to bear for Christ’s sake.  

The importance of Christ’s birth. Is Christ’s birth inconsequential to our faith? A look at Scriptures reveal God’s heart on this matter. It begins right from Gen 3:15, when God promised victory over Satan. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” This would be through the woman’s seed, the fruit of her womb. So, the birth of Christ is the fulfillment of this promise of the gift of a Saviour. The Jews understood this and it meant so much to the true Jews to await the birth of the Messiah that Simeon, a man who was “just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25), waited to see the long-awaited baby Christ, the salvation of the Lord, before he died. Through the thousands of years before Christ came, there were numerous prophecies of the coming Messiah. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6). We cannot take and underplay the importance of the birth of this child, because He was no ordinary child. The mighty God came one day in history, as a newborn child. “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa 7:14). The birth of our Lord Jesus Christ was a sign from God. Let us declare it out to the world that in the birth of this child, “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (Joh 1:14). In fact, this birth was of such great significance that God sent herald of this birth. God wanted His people to know in no uncertain terms that this was His Son. He prophesied of a prophet that would be sent to “Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isa 40:3). John the Baptiser was that prophet who “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Mt 3:1-3). Furthermore, we are told that to shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night, “the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them” announced to them the good news that “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Lu 2:11). God did not intend this to be a quiet birth for “suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Lu 2:13-14). If the birth was intended to be kept under wraps, why did God take such pains to prepare and announce this birth with such great fanfare?  The birth is a sign to mankind – the King of kings, the Saviour of mankind is born… take note, come and worship Him!

What is Christ’s birth to you? The virgin birth of Christ is one of the key tenets of the Christian faith. If He was not born of a virgin, then He is not sinless. Yes, Christ’s death and resurrection are what saves us, but without His Virgin Birth we also cannot be saved! We are familiar with the nativity scenes. We sing the Christmas carols. But let us never forget that these are not mere fables. This is a true account of one day in history. This is a remembrance of the most important birth of all mankind’s history. Because on this day, God gave His only begotten son to take on human flesh. The Infinite Creator who created man at the foundation of the world took on the form of a creature to save the creature. It must be both with awestruck reverence and glorious praise that we sing the praises of the love of our God that made the way of salvation for hopeless man. If you have not, cry to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ – our Immanuel – to save you from your sins today!

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard [him]; 4 God also bearing [them] witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?” (Heb 2:3-4)

Yours in our Lord’s service,