Merry Christmas: Gift Enclosed
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- Format: Folded Tract
- Paper: Gloss Text
- Size: 3.5 inches x 5.5 inches
- Pages: 6
- Version: KJV
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A Christmas Gift From Me to You
In North American culture we safeguard our physical and financial assets but share our knowledge freely. Many other cultures around the world share their tangible assets freely but safeguard that which they consider more valuable, which is knowledge.
Today I’d like to offer you a Christmas gift—knowledge from another culture. Although free, the value of this knowledge is greater than the value of any other thing I could give you.
The Ancient Origins of Christmas
No, I’m not going to tell you about a baby in a manger. That story is only part of a much older and much bigger story. The origin of Christmas dates from the very beginning of time. In fact, God had already planned it before He created time itself!
The Reason for Christmas
In the beginning God created our original ancestors, Adam and Eve. He loved them deeply. He created them to have a relationship with Him. God created them perfect, with no faults whatsoever. This was necessary because God Himself is Holy. That means He is separate from anything that is evil in any way. God considers any evil, in whatever form and regardless of how “small” we may think it is, to be sin. For Adam and Eve to have a relationship with Holy God, they, too, had to be holy—completely separate from sin.
God gave Adam and Eve one very simple rule to obey. He forbade them to eat the fruit of one particular tree. He told them that to disobey Him in this way was sin, and that the punishment for sin was death. Death?!? For eating ONE forbidden fruit??? Death, for just that “little” sin?!? Is God crazy? No, God is holy. He is, and must always be, separate from sin.
Why so Harsh?
Perhaps it will help if I explain the nature of death. Death is simply separation in one form or another. If you were to separate the branch of a tree from the source of its life (the trunk/root), what would happen to that branch? Wouldn’t it die? Well, God was the source of Adam and Eve’s life. If they polluted themselves with sin by disobeying God, then God would have to separate them from His holy self. Like the branch, they would die. And like every one of the leaves on that branch, all of their descendants would also die (that means you and me). All because of one single “little” sin. I cannot underscore enough the holiness of God and its importance to this Christmas story.
Adam and Eve enjoyed a perfect relationship with God for a time. Can you imagine “hanging out” with the Creator of the Universe? Wouldn’t that be awesome? That’s what they did on a regular basis. But eventually they sinned. They ate the fruit that God had forbidden. And, because God is holy, He had to break off His relationship with them and separate Himself from them. They were sentenced to death by the mere fact that they were separated from the Source of their life.
Was there anything Adam and Eve could do to make amends? Sure. All they had to do was become holy again. But how could they do that? How can anyone do that? How can you get rid of sin? Only by paying off the penalty of sin. And that penalty is death—separation from Holy God! Forever!
So, no, there really was nothing they could do to restore their relationship with God. But they tried. They did the best they knew how. They made clothes out of leaves to try to cover their sin.
Did that make them acceptable to Holy God? Not at all (none of our efforts ever do). But did God stop loving Adam and Eve? Absolutely not. He still wanted to have a relationship both with them and with their offspring (us). Adam and Eve may have been completely helpless to make themselves holy, but God is not limited in His resources. He provided a way—not that they could make themselves holy—but a way that HE could make them holy.
God used Adam and Eve’s failed attempt to become acceptable (the clothes they made for themselves) to show them His plan to make them holy once again. The plan involved a substitute. God took an innocent animal—a sinless one who didn’t deserve to die—and sentenced him to die the death that Adam and Eve did deserve. Then God took the skin of that sinless animal and made clothes to cover the sinners. (Wearing these clothes did not make Adam and Eve holy. This was simply a picture of the ultimate payment for sin that God had planned.)
There are other stories in the Bible which gave man a preview of God’s plan to pay the penalty of sin on our behalf through the death of a sinless substitute. For instance, a flawless ram died the death that God had decreed the son of Abraham deserved to die.
And a perfect lamb was sacrificed in the place of each firstborn sinner of Israel during the first Passover. You can read these stories and many more in the Bible. The ones I’ve mentioned can be found in the first book of the Bible, Genesis, chapters 2-3 and 22 and the second book of the Bible, Exodus, chapters 11-12.
How About You?
Do you know what the stories I’ve mentioned picture? Do you know that sin separates you from Holy God? Do you know that God provided complete payment for sin on your behalf? Do you know that God offers you the gift of holiness so that He can have a personal relationship with you?
Do these stories of innocent animals dying in the place of guilty sinners make you think of an innocent baby in a manger? That child was Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He was born so He could die on a cross—a sinless One dying the death of a sinner. That’s the true reason for Christmas.
There is no way I can tell you everything I want to with only the words that fit on this little piece of paper. If you want to know more you may access my website to listen to audio recordings that explain these things in much more detail (www.jimsheffield.org/HIStory/).
I give you here my contact information so that you may call or write me if you want to know more. I would be thrilled if you would accept the gift of knowledge this season.
And … have a very Merry Christmas!