The President’s Column
“And on earth peace, good will toward men.” —Luke 2:14
Even at the risk of sounding trite, it is getting harder to celebrate Christmas without feeling suffocated by the world’s version of Christmas, which like a noose seems to get tighter and tighter. Granted, the world will always be the world. We cannot and should not expect the world to appreciate the true spiritual, Biblical meaning of Christmas. The world simply cannot comprehend that blessed phrase in “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing,” namely, “God and sinners reconciled.” The world does not even know what that statement means, even though its “pop crooners” sing this line and all the other blessed words of our wonderful Christian Christmas carols over and over again. You cannot walk through any department store or mall without hearing the world trying to sing Christian carols! Permit me to express how offensive it is to any sincere Christian’s ears to hear some pop idol swoon and croon off key a Christmas carol to his own sickening glory and honor. It is nothing short of blasphemy! However, on the Last Day, when the Savior of the world comes back as the Judge of the world, then all who took the blessed name of Jesus in vain will find themselves down on their knees, contrary to their own will, and confessing Jesus to be “LORD to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11). And then there shall follow for them weeping and gnashing of teeth!
Nevertheless, despite the world’s own blasphemous celebration of Christmas, our celebration cannot and will not be daunted. By the grace of God, we believe in Christ and enjoy that peace brought about by Jesus who was born of the Virgin Mary for the express purpose of reconciling the world unto God. Let us join with the angels who sang out, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).
Now these words, perhaps the most often quoted words on Christmas cards, do not say what the majority of people in the world think they say. They think these words are talking about temporal peace on earth. They yearn for the day when there be no more wars on earth. Joining such disillusioned people are all the millennialists who dream of perfect peace on earth during a fictitious millennium! Of course, Jesus has already declared that wars and rumors of wars will continue unto the end, even ushering in His second visible coming on the Last Day (Matthew 24). Moreover, most “modern” Bible versions butcher these words saying such things as, “and on earth peace among men with whom he is well pleased!” (RSV), or “and on earth peace among men on whom his favor rests” (NIV), both of which limit (like John Calvin) God’s peace only to those whom God favors, whereas God’s peace and favor spoken of here is the objective peace of God in Christ which extends to all men; or “and on earth peace among men with whom he is well pleased [men of good will, of His favor]” (Amplified Bible). All these versions make the peace temporal, or make it something among, or between men toward one another, or limits God’s peace only to those whom He favors with the implication that in Christ God does not favor all!
Not so! The angels gave glory to God because the birth of Jesus ushered in the Savior of the whole world of sinners to establish peace between God and sinful man, the enemy of God. In the birth of Jesus, God was sending forth His Son, “made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law” (Galatians 4:4-5). Jesus came to reconcile God, whose just anger and wrath was upon all mankind from Adam’s Fall. God was justly angry with the world of sinners. But Christ came and gained for the world peace with God. Christ came, and by His holy obedience to the Law and His atoning sacrifice, appeased and satisfied the offended justice of God so that now God is at peace with us.
Scripture further explains this peace of God toward us in these words: “And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable in his sight” (Colossians 1:20-22). By the blood of Jesus, shed on the cross, the wrath of God upon the world was turned away. Now, for Jesus’ sake, God says, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of PEACE, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11). This is the peace of which the angels sang when they declared, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace good will toward men.” Yes, God’s good will toward us poor sinners is the true peace which we celebrate at Christmas, “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1), peace which we appropriate personally by faith.
What a shame to celebrate Christmas but fail to understand, truly understand, and thereby fail to receive the peace which Christ came to give to every person. To have not just a happy Christmas but a happy life, even unto eternity, see and acknowledge your own sinfulness with repentance, and embrace by faith the Lord Jesus who secured peace with God for the whole world, and therefore and in particular for you. On this basis, may you have a most blessed Christmas!
—E. R. S.