Unspeakable Grace During the Holidays
The Holidays are special opportunities afforded by God to us believers in our nation to enjoy and evangelize. At Thanksgiving we can remember primarily the common grace afforded to us, including food, shelter, and clothing. At Christmas we can remember primarily the supernatural grace afforded to us including salvation that came to us in both the Person and Work of Christ. But consider not only the opportunity to enjoy these holidays, but also the opportunity of the gospel to go forth in evangelization of all. Everyone in our nation is invited to participate in these holidays. They all in their essence require all people to recognize God as the giver. So, holidays are special opportunities afforded by God to us believers in our nation to enjoy and evangelize.Even so, this evangelization is done by God already, so that the holidays in themselves are gifts of God’s decree in our time. Not to say that these holidays will not change with culture, but for now, they still afford to us and to others joy if they will have it in God. One old professor from Princeton stated it this way when speaking about Christmas:
The great gift of Christ is not granted to God’s friends, but to his enemies, to those who in their sins have risen up against God and declared war against the Almighty. To every one of us, suffering, as we and our world are, under the destructive power of sin, God offers his gift of ‘unspeakable’ grace. Christmas does not offer rejoicing to a selected few; it cries out, ‘Joy to the world!’ We stand before that supreme and saving truth, the holy of holies of our Christian faith, the blessed assurance that ‘Christ Jesus came into the world,’ not to build big and costly churches, not to give his followers earthly power and rule, but — and this is why the angels sang their praise — ‘to save sinners.’ He came, not to establish social service, social consciousness, social justice, but first and foremost he came to seal our salvation.
No wonder the apostle calls the mercy of God as shown by the gift of Christ ‘unspeakable’; it goes beyond the limit of human speech. Just as beholding the glare of the sun, men lose their power of vision, so raising our eyes to the brilliance of Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, we are blinded by the splendor of the greatest Gift that God himself could bestow. Christ came to save — blessed assurance! But more: he came to ‘save . . . to the uttermost,’ so that no sin is too great, no sinner too vile, to be blessed, when penitent and believing, by this Gift.1
Get this, at least two holidays which we are afforded as Christians, actually self-perform the evangelization for us: Thanksgiving and Christmas. Followed by one another, people are put face to face with who they think they should thank for what they have, and who the Christ is in Christmas. We need say very little to make them evangelistic. We simply need to remember the Turkey on the table at Thanksgiving, and the Tree in the room on Christmas are not our enemies, but friends in setting forth an important message to our culture, namely that all that we have and enjoy comes from God via creation (Thanksgiving) and via incarnation (Christmas).
That doesn’t mean that we do not endeavour to verbally share Christ at the Thanksgiving Table or around the Christmas Tree, we may. But it is helpful to note that trying to witness to an unbelieving family member at Thanksgiving may be done more in a rested and happy countenance that you have because you are in on the secret. And sharing the gospel around the Christmas tree may not be reading the Christmas story to your children this one time of the year, but more in your children seeing Christ has entered you this Advent and made you so glad that you don’t have to prove something at the tree, because they see in your countenance and they hear it in your voice that you can’t stop thinking about a better one, the Cross. Now that’s an unspeakable grace.
- Walter A. Maier, ‘Thanks be unto God for His Unspeakable Gift!’ in Andrew Watterson Blackwood, comp., The Protestant Pulpit: An Anthology of Master Sermons from the Reformation to Our Own Day (1947; reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978), p. 234. Quoted in The Christ of Christmas by James Montgomery Boice.
Brian Mann is Pastor of Catherine Lake Baptist Church, Richlands, NC.
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